brigitte kathleen

rediscovering my heart

An Open Letter to Jon Acuff and #StartEXP Participants


Dear STARTers,

Where do I even begin? First of all, Jon Acuff, thank you for the courage you’ve shown over the past few months, taking on this experiment and getting us involved in something great! So many great relationships have been born. So many inside jokes, so many hashtags… It’s  been a whirlwind three months of constant phone charging, and fear punching.  Jon, because of what you started, I went to Nashville for the first time (and saw some naked statues). Jon, because of your powerful words of encouragement, I wrote a Time Magazine article that described what I pictured my life being like in a way I never thought before. Jon, because of your dream, I made 200 new friends. And though we are very different, there’s an incredible amount of magic going on in that #StartSingles group that no one can really explain. Jon, thank you for involving your 2,000+ new friends on this journey you began. It’s been a joy to see it transform, grow, and morph it something no one expected.

Now, for all you #STARTers. I’ve never seen a more tenacious, determined, faithful, dedicated, loyal, supportive group of people in my entire life. And I don’t mean just the ones who post the most, or ninja-like the most, or were a part of FrankenSTART. I mean everyone. To see how each person contributed was truly amazing. I’ll be 100% honest, at the beginning of the second round, I went on a trip out of the country, and I had a hard time getting back into the swing of things when I returned. I lost touch of the main group and spent most of my time in the #StartSingles group, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t pop my head in every now and again to see what kinds of great things were being brewed up in there.  Thank you for being a constant shining light.

But now what? Yesterday, the #StartEXP as we once knew it came to an end. I see there’s a new group called “Dreamers and Builders,” and bravo for taking the initiative to keep the community alive. But… I want you to start thinking about life in terms of chapters, or seasons. The best example I can think of off the top of my head is Jon’s exit from the Dave Ramsey group. We don’t know the reason, and Jon doesn’t owe us one, but it’s obvious that his season there was over. Just like the season for the #StartEXP is now over, and has transformed.

But here’s what I want to challenge you with.

I don’t think Jon’s intent was for us to become dependent on him or this community for a feeling of purpose or contribution. I think community is really important, but I’ve noticed how some of us react when something changes- like yesterday, or like when Jon announced his resignation. People seem to get easily flustered. But you know what, guys? Jon is not the source of your power. Jon was simply someone who gave you the keys to unlock what you already had! If Jon completely disappeared from this, you would still go on being brilliant, and creative, and powerful.

I’m not saying the season for change starts now, but I want you think about what happens next. In Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud, he talks about how in order for things to change and become new, some things need to end. This is very similar to the idea of death and resurrection. Eventually, death will come to everything we know as #StartEXP, and it’ll be in our hands to move forward embracing the resurrection of something new and exciting. For Christians, I believe that is where we’ll see the Holy Spirit’s action start up again. When we allow death to bring in resurrection, we are offering an opportunity for new birth. If you don’t believe in the Holy Spirit, think about it in this way- a gardener must prune back roses in a bush that might be beautiful, but not necessarily buds that help the entire plant reach is fullest, brightest, and most beautiful potential.

Change is usually difficult. And some of us are not ready for that change to happen to the #StartEXP yet. But I can tell you that change is coming, and eventually we’ll have to embrace the pain of death so that we can allow our brilliance, our creativity, and our mind power bring to life something new and exciting.

Jon is just a guy who had an idea. All of us had our own ideas also, or we wouldn’t have replied to the tweet/post/every other social media medium out there that Jon uses. Jon is not the one supporting you. Even your fellow #STARTers aren’t supporting you. You are using your own mind, your own ideas, your own ideation to create and discover. Don’t let go of that. Don’t forget about the magic you had before you met Jon.

I have the utmost respect for all of you, and I’m excited to see what awesome things you continue to do.


Brigitte K. Leininger


P.S. #allthethings


4 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Jon Acuff and #StartEXP Participants

  1. Brigitte, I loved this article.

    My wife and I were a part of a fairly good-sized and active online faith community that was one of the greatest sources of encouragement to us in our walk within a fairly dry and abusive local community. Saying goodbye to that was hard. The company / ministry that hosted it gave the community a month to say our goodbyes and then another month to threadcruise and search for what was important to us should we want to copy/paste and archive those relationships.

    I was there for 4.5 years and she 4, having created an account originally simply to keep from friends in the loop during a time of surgery and recovery for me. Seasons change. Spring to summer, summer to fall, fall to winter, and winter to spring – and new life. Time for reaping and time for sowing.

    I made and still maintain some fairly deep friendships at that time that were 2D and have developed them into 3D (including some that were 2.5D for a time). Even 3D (or what some call skin-on) communities are not meant to be forever for the individual. Sometimes we can’t leave fast enough. Sometimes, leaving is hard.

    I’m not sure what I’ll be doing in the next season, but I can bet you sure as the sun shines, I’ll be carrying a machete and a passport.

  2. Great post. I think our challenge will be to continue to help people embrace this. It is dead on. People cannot become dependent on the community for what they need. That was the whole message of Start. Love this!

  3. Great post and reminder! It is so easy for people to become dependent on something or someone great that enhances their life. It is important to remember that community has its place and plays a big role but not the entire role. It is also about remembering the lessons, carrying them with you and share them with others as you move forward. Jon has given us a lot of great tools to succeed, the best way to honor him going forward now and after this ends is to share them with others.

  4. Awesome post! I believe that we owe Jon a great deal for helping us unlock the power we had inside us to do great things, but I don’t believe that he ever intended for us to rely solely on him or the community. We hold the power to dream, set our own goals, use our own talents, and be our own awesome. Thanks for a great reminder. 🙂

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