Tuesday, October 09, 2012
One... and growing!
October 9th is the "official" birthday of Restoration Christian Church. It was on October 9th we held our Launch Sunday. 71 people gathered in the Springs Valley Elementary School cafeteria that day for worship. It was a great start for our church!
I know I have focused a lot on this anniversary, but allow me to wrap this celebration up by sharing a few lessons I have learned this past year.
1. The church is the people. If anything has impacted me these last 12 months, it is definitely this lesson. We don't have a church building. However, we do have office space we rent, but the office is not large enough for our gatherings. So, we rent a movie theater on Sunday mornings to hold our worship service in.
Many times I think it would be so wonderful to have a building. And it would be wonderful... when I think about our set up crew coming in early on Sunday mornings, and staying late to tear down... when I think we wouldn't have to store our equipment in a trailer... when I think we wouldn't get funny looks after telling people we have church in a theater... sometimes I think it would be wonderful to have a building.
But then I realize not having a building helps us teach people we are the church! Not having a building helps us financially in the beginning! Renting the theater is much more economical than maintaining a building large enough for us to gather in. The office space we rent allows small groups to meet for Bible study throughout the week. The opening of a new teen center in town gives our student ministry an amazing place to meet on Sunday nights!
God has not given us one building to meet in. God has given us three buildings for our church to meet in! Wherever we are, that is where Restoration Christian Church is. The church is the people!
2. Planting a church is hard. It's not necessarily hard physically, although there are times it definitely requires physical strength. Planting a church is hard emotionally and spiritually.
I have experienced the drain ministry in a church can place on you. (It's hard to explain, but ask any preacher and they'll tell you a Sunday can wipe them out!)
But I have discovered planting a church seems to take the draining up a notch!
There is stress associated with finances, trying to establish yourself in a new community, learning names, being rejected by people, recruiting helpers, maintaining your marriage, learning a new culture. Add this all together and church planting is emotionally taxing.
Spiritually you have to be on guard to make sure your emotional drain does not impact your spiritual life. Since we are human and tend to define our self worth in how well the church plant "seems" to be doing, we can focus on our efforts rather than rely on God and His strength. If we have a "bad" Sunday, we stress about whether anyone will come back the next week. If the financial support hasn't come in for the month like you need it to, we stress about paying the bills.
It is so easy to take your focus off of God. And when this happens... church planting is hard.
3. Church planting is awesome! Yes. It really is. When I keep my priorities and focus in the proper places, there is nothing I'd rather do in this world than plant a church. I have friends who share with me the difficulties they face in their church ministry. I sympathize with them because I've been there. Then I quietly whisper a prayer of thanks to God that I am allowed to do what I am doing.
I know church planting isn't for everyone. I didn't think it was for me until a couple years ago. I also know there are some really good established churches. But when we do what God calls us to do, there is a sweet spot where nothing else in this world even sounds tempting. Sure, it'd be nice to make more money in another job. But leaving your calling makes it simply a "job."
4. I love my church! I know it's ultimately Jesus' church, but I am thankful I get to be part of His church at Restoration! I have met some of the greatest people this year. It's been a blessing for me to share in their lives. I am excited to see what God has in store for us at Restoration Christian Church.
"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21)