1,586 days ago, I had a dream in the middle of the night. I was the new pastor of a church I’d never seen. Someone was leading the way, and we walked together up an old gravel driveway surrounded by tall grass. We arrived and there was no building, no steeple… just a farm.
I woke up. It was 3:17 in the morning, and all I could think was how wildly fun it would be to be a church on a farm. Goats, chickens, eggs, the smell of hay, folks gathered in a barn or in an orchard… I googled “farm church” to see if such a thing existed, and when I couldn’t find it, I went to GoDaddy and bought www.FarmChurch.org.
That was 1,586 days ago. Karla said yes – the biggest and best yes of them all. Allen said yes – “That’s it. I’m in!” were his exact words. Brandon said yes too, and the three of us spent breathless weeks and months visioning, deciding, pouring over maps, wondering… dreaming. Our families (bless them!) lived a yes with us that drew us all, in our own time, down a road with a thousand blind corners, a thousand occasions to trust.
Today Farm Church is a church that meets on a farm and leverages the resources of that farm to address food insecurity. About 90 people call Farm Church home these days. Their collective YES still stuns me and emboldens me to believe in the dream as it continues to unfold. Not my dream anymore, of course (it hasn’t been mine for a long, long time) but our dream, our continuous “yes, and…” to each other and to God, who always seems to respond with a “yes, and…” of her own.
Now I have 3 more days. This Sunday will be my last as Farm Church’s co-pastor. After that, I’m not disappearing, but I will disappear for a while to let Farm Church settle in with new rhythms of life and leadership. They’re in amazing hands – Allen’s, of course, but each other’s too. Good, strong, miracle-making-and-receiving, capable hands…
I feel like I have a galaxy of last words to cram into one sermon this Sunday, which won’t be good for anyone, so I’m trying to put some of it here. Two of them are THANK YOU. Starting Farm Church has been like jumping from a great height and trusting wings to grow on the way down. Friends, you have been the flight crew. I swear it feels like a million people jumped with me and cheered their guts out until we took flight. You’ve supported Farm Church in so many ways. And then when I got cancer it felt like you all sprouted wings of your own and just carried me. I am just dazzled with gratitude – I simply cannot convey how profoundly thankful I am for you.
A whole flock of you have been giving to the Live Into Hope fund these days. I have to tell you that, even as I approach disability, you are making me feel like a damn ass-kicker. I swear to you I won’t quit. I may move slow, but you are reminding me that I’ve got fight left, and that this is one more chance to jump and find my wings. Thank you, thank you, thank you…
I often say at Farm Church that it doesn’t seem that Jesus came to make a bunch of churches – that he was way more interested in helping people see, enter, celebrate, and even co-create the kin-dom of heaven. I think of you all and my own vision and energy for that reality is renewed. I love you, I thank God for you, and I am because you are.
With Awe and Belonging,
I have stage IV lung cancer and I write about that here. If you're out there and you're fighting cancer, solidarity. If you read "lung cancer" and you wonder if I was a smoker, read this. Living with cancer is a daily, death-defying reality - one that pushes me to not simply defy death, but to affirm life, bless goodness, cheer for wonder, celebrate beauty... you get the idea. I hope I do that here.