Well, one of our family's favorite movies is We Bought A Zoo. The film, inspired by true events, tells the story of Benjamin Mee, a widowed father of two trying to pave a new path for his family after his wife’s untimely death. This search for a fresh start leads them to their eclectic dream home, which just so happens to be connected to a zoo, Rosemoor Wildlife Park.
Despite the fact that zoo has been closed for some time, that the staff is disenfranchised, and that Mee has absolutely zero experience running such an operation, he quits his job and takes on the challenge of trying to reopen the zoo with his kids. It’s an adventure that, if you haven’t seen the movie, is worth the two hours of your time.
Recently my wife Breanna and I were rewatching the film when she said something rather interesting. She looked over and pointed out, “This sure feels a lot like church planting.” It was a poignant observation and one that made me realize the numerous parallels as I watched the rest of the film.
In fact, one, in particular, stands out. In the middle of the movie, there’s a scene where the head zookeeper, Kelly, interrogates Mee on why he would make such a seemingly crazy decision to take over Rosemoor. She states, “I have a question for you. You’re some random dude from the city, no one in the zoo community has ever heard of you. You know nothing about animals and you moved your family into a dump. What kind of regular person up and buys a place like this?...Why Benjamin, why did you buy this place?” His response is as captivating as it is simplistic: “Why not?”
On almost a daily basis we face similar questioning. From the non-believer to the avid church-goer, we get peppered with bewildered curiosity:
“Why would you move your family into the city?”
“Why not move near family? Why go to Boston when you know no one there?”
“Why leave a good church, nice house and good jobs to struggle in the exorbitant cost of living in the Northeast?”
“Why risk it all to start something in a place where few churches seem to work or thrive?”
Our response is simple...why not?
It’s not that these questions are lacking legitimacy or are without merit. In fact, to be honest, we asked ourselves many of these questions in the early stages of deciding to relocate to Boston to start a church. Our evaluators at our church planting assessment tested us with these questions to see how we’d hold up. From a purely practical vantage point, the “why” questions are only natural. Two non-New Englander couples, who’ve never planted a church before, are moving to a city far from familiarity, to start a church in one of the hardest locations on the continent to do so. The “why” makes sense.
But the further we explored the depths of following Christ, our calling as Christians and our limited time on this earth, our minds quickly shifted from “why” to “why not.” In essence, we ran out of excuses.
Why not be faithful to The Great Commission?
Why not go where the need is the greatest when the workers are few?
Why not trust a God who promises to provide when we are faithful?
Why not risk it all when we don’t get to keep any of this anyhow?
Why not lay down our lives when we don’t get to hold onto them anyway?
The more we asked these questions, the more we realized that choosing the comforts of the here and now are just as big (if not bigger) of a risk as the adventure of going.
Please understand, this isn’t minimizing our call and our heartbeat for Boston that we feel God has placed deep inside us. This just means we’re going not viewing it as a risk but as a normal, Kingdom-minded thing to do. That while it won’t be easy, we know easy isn’t what we’ve been called to as Christ-followers.
So, as we begin to transition and move here in a few months, we’re going with the attitude of “why not.” One where we are less worried about all the excuses or reasons it doesn’t make sense and are instead more worried about letting those things keep us from helping people find Jesus. We believe it’s time that a whole generation of Christ-followers feel the same way about going to places like New England, and we want to help lead the charge.
Bring on 2018!