I turn 49 in a few weeks.
49 for me is to life what Sinead O’Connor was to music. Huh? What? Who? Exactly.
Speaking of 49, don’t tell me I’m middle-aged. I remember growing up and hearing people in their 50’s saying they were middle-aged and thinking, “Middle-aged? What are you? A Galapagos Tortoise*?” My wife is 6 years younger than me, which makes our average age 45. This kind of math infuriates her, but it makes me feel like a wild, young stallion. Did I hear a giddy up?!
I planted Westside at 39. At the time few had planted churches in Vancouver and those that had made age 39 look like a sad yesteryear. I was the new kid, the young kid, the youngin’ (sort of) who was leading a church that met in a movie theatre full of people who drove cars with “N’s” on their bumpers and were happy about it.
But then you know what happened? A decade happened, that’s what.
Paul Martin was Prime Minister 10 years ago, George W. was president 10 years ago, Hurricane Katrina blew in 10 years ago, Lance Armstrong won his 7th Tour 10 years ago, Michael Jackson was found “not guilty” 10 years ago, Million Dollar Baby and Hillary Swank took home Oscars 10 years ago, Norah Jones and John Mayer won Grammies 10 years ago, Tiger was actually winning and married 10 years ago and Westside was a baby 10 years ago.
She is no longer.
Westside is no longer a baby in the same way that I’m no longer being asked to the Prom**.
So what does that mean? For me it means the temptation to buy a Lime Green Testarossa, get my back lasered and buy jeans with bedazzled back pockets. In other words, it means the temptation towards being something I no longer am.
The temptation is the same for Westside.
I have to be honest; I miss the days when Westside was shiny, new and nomadic. I miss the days of driving in, setting up, packing in and driving away a few hours later. I miss the days of being a ministry that had no home yet, but people came anyway – I liked those days a lot.
But that’s not who Westside is today, and with that recognition comes a choice: we can attempt to go out and look for a Lime Green Testarossa and bedazzled jeans or we can embrace the season God has us in now. A season allotting us the opportunity to encourage, train and bless those coming after us. A season enabling us to edify, inspire and support other ministries in the city and abroad. A season providing us the platform to come alongside many and say, “Hey young stallion, hey little filly, let me share with you what I’ve learned along the way.” A season where we can declare, with experience and as practitioners, “Jesus is enough.”
Or, we can allow it to be a season that tempts us to run after those things that waste what we’ve learned and experienced over years past.
Have you ever seen a 50-year-old dude with a barbed-wire bicep tattoo or a 50-year-old lady with “Juicy” on her sweats? Ain’t it sad?
Westside, growing up and getting older isn’t easy. It’s no fun going from smooth to wrinkled, hip to tired and new to staid. Please hear me: I’m not saying we’re ready to be put out to pasture, but I am saying that we are entering a second decade where God, I believe, is calling us to bless, encourage and support others. To think broader and wider and use what He’s taught us for the sake of His Kingdom. Are you willing?
* The average age of the Galapagos Tortoise is about 190
** Full disclosure: I was never asked to the Prom. The ladies loss, know what I’m saying?
Norm Funk is the Lead Pastor at Westside Church and has a heart for the city of Vancouver. He is married to Nicole and they have two fantastic boys.