The Church Planter and Fyre Festival Expectations
Every church planter imagines the church of his dreams on the other side of the launch.
Then reality hits like the Fyre Festival.
Have you heard about it?
It was supposed to be the party of all parties.
It was started by rapper JaRule and founder of Fyre Media, Billy McFarland.
Tickets ranged from 1500 dollars to over 100 thousand.
Scheduled for two weekends on the island of Great Exuma in the Bahamas, it was advertised as a deluxe music festival like the world had never seen before. Expectations were high, and people paid dearly to have those expectations met.
They never were.
The founders are now being sued for over 100 million dollars for fraud, breach of covenant of good faith, and breach of contract.
The Fyre Festival collected millions of dollars, hired super models, bands, and deluxe caterers. The problem is, they didn’t pay anybody up front. The bands quit, the caterers walked away, and instead of a week of amazing concerts in “luxury accommodation” at a no-cash event, all inclusive of gourmet food, massages, and bliss, it became something out of a nightmare. Port-a-potties lined the beach, a symbol of unrealized promises starkly contrasted with the reality of the situation.
The tourists turned up to a hastily erected dock off of an abandoned, but beautiful Bahamian Island. The concierge stand was a hastily hammered shack of two-by-fours, with a grass skirt roof.
The “luxury” accommodation turned out to be disaster relief dome tents. The “gourmet food” was a piece of bread, a slice of processed cheese, and a piece of lettuce and tomato on the side as a “salad”. Bands didn’t play. Beer wasn’t stocked at the bar. Plumbing and electricity? Forget about it.
The funniest, or saddest part, depending on how you view the event, was when it came to unloading the luggage. It was piled ceiling high in the back of a shipping container, and because there were no lights, or systems in place, they flung the back doors open, and threw them out.
On the sand.
In the dark.
For over a thousand people.
In droves, they lined up at the docks exhausted, let down, hungry, and ready to go home.
The problem was that they were promised so much.
And so little was delivered.
The church planter expects paradise after his launch date. The church plant of all church plants. The manifestations of his dream…
Like I said, reality can hit like the Fyre Festival.
Less than half the people turn up the following week.
Half your core team leaves.
The giving seems steady at about 16 dollars a week, give or take a couple of quarters.
Your home study is comprised of you, your kids, and your pets, and you don’t even feel bad for counting them.
Your spouse holds it in, but you think they might be entertaining the idea that you’re a crazy person.
Leaving that full-time job seems light years away
In other words, you promised yourself yatchs, champagne, stadium bands, and supermodels, and all you got was cheese on bread, in a disaster relief tent.
But church planting is never really a disaster. Unless you were gunning for something that you couldn’t pull off.
Maybe the problem isn’t with reality. Maybe the problem is with what we promised ourselves.
The Fyre Festival Expectations are no longer there for me when planting.
Had I been at the Fyre Festival, I’d do what I’ve learned to do when church planting.
I’d swim in it. I’d soak in what God was doing like the Caribbean sun. I’d ride the wave of whatever the Holy Spirit wanted to do.
Planting a church is hard, but it’s the equivalent to being in the Bahamas on a spiritual scale. Those kids who shelled out foolish amounts of money weren’t going to be pampered as they expected, but they were still in one of the coolest places on earth.
You’re still in the Bahamas of ministry. Front line ministry has its hardships, but it’s still paradise to me. I’ve served in mega-church, where my soul is languishing, and I’ve been on staff at a famous and prestigious church. But I’ve also been on the front lines, seeing life change one by one in neighborhoods that the average planter doesn’t go to.
And to me, the latter is paradise. Even if I’m having to eat bread and cheese.
What are your Fyre Festival expectations of church planting?
Did sombody tell you in the Bible that a room full of people was your goal?
Did Paul worry about the offering?
Didn’t he start by infiltrating communities with the gospel instead of trying to pull off an event?
Did Jesus ever get turned on by crowds?
Jesus promised Peter martyrdom by crucifixion.
How’s that for setting expectations right at the start?
For Peter, every day was a good day.
Every day he had everything to lose and no time to waste.
If you’ve been expecting a luxury holiday in the Bahamas, you’ve been misled.
This is church planting, and church planting is best defined by reading the book of Acts, not by what somebody today tells you, that hasn’t lived it.
If more church planters understood what church planting really was, we’d have less Fyre Festival disasters a few months after launch, with planters whining to go home, and more sustainable works.
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