It is a pretty common practice to re-pot a plant because the current pot is too small and the plant is in danger of becoming root bound. But… what if the pot is too big… or simply the wrong kind of pot?
Six months ago, we sold our old church building and moved out. Many churches outgrow their facilities and need to move to a larger, more accommodating space. This was not our story. Instead, we found ourselves in a facility far too large with tons of wasted space and a mortgage that had begun to define us more than our stated mission. In short, our space had begun to require virtually all of our resources and left little or nothing for the mission we claimed to value.
Most folks know, even those with nothing resembling a green thumb, that you sometimes need to move a plant to a larger pot in order for the plant to remain healthy. Roots without room to spread become bound and tangled; choking growth. Fewer are aware that too much space can be equally unhealthy. Planting in a pot too large often allows too much soil to hold too much water. The result is root rot and disease. The roots decay and become diseased and the plant may even die.
Our pot was too large. We were losing the strength of our roots and watching them weaken and wither. And so… we decided to re-plant. We sold the old building and moved into a smaller, borrowed space. Our community did not so much grow larger but the roots strengthened and we have begun to show signs of health and life.
We have turned our resources from the maintenance of a pot that was not right for us and have, instead, poured them into things that matter to us. Things we hope matter to Jesus. We have replaced the transmission in a local van that carries supplies to the homeless. We have built a covered patio on a transitional home for formerly incarcerated women. We have built gardens and sorted clothes. We have sent support to missions in Africa and India. We have handed out fresh packs of cigarettes to our homeless friends. And… we have removed ourselves from an oversized pot and we have seen our community begin to bloom and bear fruit. We are becoming the plant that the seed packaged promised.
We are learning to be church re-planters.