“But for 2.5 years, and all during our church planting effort, I worked feverishly in vain to find a new career after 12 years in professional ministry. It was more than frustrating, it was humiliating.
“Then, not long after closing Ikon, a new opportunity presented itself at my workplace. I’ve been in that new role for 7 months now and I’m hopeful about our family’s fiscal prospects for the first time in years.
“For 2.5 years we really struggled to connect with people. But almost immediately after shutting down Ikon, local relationships began to open up to us in a remarkable way. In fact, in this past year, our family has somehow gained a larger and deeper network of friends than we’ve ever had in our entire lives – mostly with people in our neighborhood.
“I recently had lunch with a local church planter and I mentioned this curious development. He asked, “Why do you think this happened immediately after closing your church plant?” I answered, “Because we don’t have an agenda for people anymore.”
“And it’s true, we really don’t… Almost none of them attend church [and] I’ve been humbled by the quality of their community. By and large, Jenell and I agree that these people do friendship and community better than any church we’ve ever been in. I’ve come to realize it is a conceit of the church that we are the authority on ‘true community’, and it may very well be a particular conceit of the missional/emerging church. Just as with nonprofit fundraising, I think Christians have a great deal to learn from secular communities on this matter…”
See also “leadership in new churches“