What is the “Lizard Brain” you ask?
If you chose to skip the above video explanation, the lizard brain is that part of your brain (the amygdala) responsible for your “fight-or-flight” reflex. It’s the part of your brain that often sabotages you in overcoming the increasing pressure as you near the completion of a project or goal. Seth Godin has a very short explanation of the dynamics of the “lizard brain” and “the resistance” on his blog (if you want a more detailed lecture from Seth check out this presentation).
So what does this have to do with church planting? Church planting involves a highly creative process that requires the pastor or team to continually “ship”, that is, follow through on their vision for the worshiping community they serve. As you near an event, or a meeting, or a service launch date the pressure builds and the resistance/lizard brain spikes in volume. What was once but a whisper is now a loud shout: “Are you sure this will work?” “Maybe we need to delay the launch”? “Is my team ready”? “Maybe I should wait until I have a larger core team”? “Should I just cancel this event?” “Am I the person for this job?” The lizard brain demands attention near the end and calls into question those things which we so certain of just days prior. The Lizard Brain seeks to sabotage the potential of “what could be” with the comfort of “what has always been.”
This was my experience last week with a service I had labored over in one of the local parks. Two days prior to the event, I found out all the people from the church plant that I anticipated going, legitimately couldn’t make it. My lizard brain started to howl: “Should I just cancel it.” “Will anyone actually read the flyers I put out and come?” “Will people even be in the park?” “How embarrassing” … But then God’s Spirit reminded me that I’m not called to “false self-preservation” as much as I am called to faithful obedience to the Gospel.
So I overcame the mounting resistance and went to the park last Sunday afternoon. I spent a lot of time setting up and no one showed … finally my wife and daughter came … then my parents and their dogs … then two more couples with their kiddos. We met folks in the park and had a fun time together. Did revival break out? Did people come to know Jesus as Lord? Was my ego preserved? No… but I shipped! I followed through on what I told people I would do: I showed up at the park, grilled food and got to know folks better.
The above video offers some helpful tips to overcome the effects of the “lizard brain”, but I prescribe these words to you as well from St. Paul,
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.”