I still feel like I’m learning through this experience. I’m definitely swimming in the deep end because I’m in way over my head. But this has a way of keeping you humble and dependent upon God. So I’m very thankful for that.
Reflecting on the past 2 years has reminded me that over and over again, God is faithful. This isn’t to say everything has worked out like we planned, because it hasn’t! But it is to say that God’s plans are better than our plans. And while there are still a few things I don’t understand, I have learned a deeper trust and faith because God is always faithful.
I’ve also been reminded that the church really is the people. 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 that 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 presence 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!
Planting a church is one of the most difficult yet rewarding tasks you can undertake.
Planting a church is hard. It's not necessarily hard physically, although 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 trying to establish yourself in a new community, learning names, being rejected by people, finances, 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.
But at the same time, planting a church is a huge blessing!
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 have a job that was more comfortable, but leaving your calling makes it simply a "job."
Here are books that helped shape my thinking, and I recommend them to church planters: