Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Why Are You Doing This: Motivations, Part One

Keeping with the topic of frequently asked questions, and perhaps the biggest question we get, is,
(drum roll please!)

"Now, why are you doing this?"

A simple yet profound question!

Of course it takes far more than a casual blog to get to the bottom of all our motivations, but I will dedicate the next series of blog posts (or at least until Baby Halley #2 arrives) to dealing with a few of the motivations that drove us to launch Burning Bush Communities. (Note that this discussion will assume that we believe we've been called to serve in full-time ministry and that we also believe God put BBC on our hearts.)

The most important motivating factor in our decision to start BBC is the love that God placed in our hearts for our own, much maligned, generation. We are the generation that grew up with all the youth groups, well funded trips, "relevant" leaders, Christian paraphenalia and were super saturated with cultural Christianity, and then as soon as we left home many of us left the church and haven't looked back much. I believe we are also the first generation that got to drink the full brew of modern American dysfunction: disentegrating families, disconnection from community, endless entertainment, all encompassing individualism and of course the materialism that we hoped would bring a better tomorrow. Not surprisingly, the outcome of this toxic brew is cynicism and skepticism towards all institutional religion, and particularly the church.

For a long time I (John) felt no calling to my own generation. For a variety of reasons (which I will explain in later posts) my heart was elsewhere. But over the last three years God grew a passionate love in my heart for my own generation, and showed me that they are in fact my people, and a people God is after. God gave me a holy dissatisfaction with the reality of my generation leaving the church, estranged from community, and pursuing the empty promises and idols that our culture clings to.

As that passion grew for my people so did my discontent with the response from the American church. This is not to point fingers or blame (and I understand the social and historical factors here- it isn't easy to change how you operate!), but I became convinced that our response as a church had not been nearly radical enough in light of such a massive failure to make disciples of a generation. There are many great people who are spending themselves to see children's ministries and youth group ministries transformed in light of what happened with my generation. But frankly there seems to be very little interest in or passion for my people in their 20's or 30's who left the church and are desperately trying to making it through life, and are accumulating scars in the process.

All of this crystallized for me last January, as I sat and listened to a message about the Prodigal Son.* It was all a very good message, but a handful of lines spoke directly to me. The speaker was discussing the older son who never left home and was upset with the love the father showed for the younger son when he returned, and said, "A true child of the Father would share His heart... the Father couldn't leave home and go after the younger son, but his older brother could have! And if he had been a true son of the father, and a true brother, he would have."

Hearing those words I recognized that God had put this love on my heart for a reason, and it was to go after my brothers and sisters, my people, who desperately needed to make it back home. That realization, that God was calling us to go after our people, was the primal motivation that started the movement in our lives that became Burning Bush Communities.

*The talk was the final address at the Underground Network's 2017 "One" conference, given by Brian Sanders. Thanks for the motivation Brian!  

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