“The people we love to read about in the Bible are impressive because they battled through the challenges.” David Branon.
I read this in “Our daily Bread” the other morning and I figured this was as good a place as any to start my “Year in the life of a church planter” blogging for the girlies. Yes I’m using that term in the old very un P.C. way as in…”Don’t be such a girl about it.” But lets face it. In the first year of church planting……how many times do we talk about the possibility of things “Folding” or perhaps we do the more spiritual spin to it and say, “Oh perhaps it wasn’t God’s will.” ..which really means…..”oh crap I’m soooo scared of failing and having mud on my face and being the church of only five people and most of them MY family.”
“Challenges” don’t mean we are not in God’s will! That is the first thing that I’ve had to face this year. If so, Paul the apostle would not have ever run his small, scarred, legs around Asia minor right?
Back in June I had the awesome opportunity of talking to a group of “Church planting Wives” Kinda sounds like “Footballer’s wives”…and I suppose it isn’t a far fetched parallel. They run around the world with their men. All these women were being bounced around here, there and everywhere and yet were so excited to be used by God. They were such an encouraging group of Gals. They were on a “mission from God”, excited “to go” and grounding themselves in God’s word.
Yet when the music stops, the conference is over, and you’re out, alone in a foreign country…or just a foreign territory and on the front lines of church planting, the challenges begin. The loneliness, the free falling, rootless existence begins…despite your spiritual support team…which is a must by the way…….If only to hear your screams as you fling yourself into No Man’s land.
First year of challenges for me looked like this…..call me carnal….or call me honest… I don’t mind…but if yours looked like mine, then perhaps we’ve found community in the challenges faced by church planters in the first year.
Day one: “Oh God did we do the right thing????!!!!”
Day two-through sixty: “Oh God are you sure we did the right thing?”
Day sixty one- “God our savings is almost gone….”
Day sixy two- “God our savings is gone!”
Day sixty three- Big, bruising, smack on the head through the word….”Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on his Faithfulness.” …….Yes these challenges are from my own journal.
Three month mark- “Lord, is this how we’re suppose to make ends meet? How many more jobs do we take????”
Sixteen weeks- “Lord what if the “bad” kids hurt my wonderful child???! I don’t want my kid to do drugs or learn the proper words for their sexual organs at age two please!”
Seventeen weeks- Smack! Smack! “In all the setbacks of your life as a believer, God is plotting for your joy.” John Piper …
“Oh what a good quote Lord, I’m so rubbish I should not be a church planter. I’m so selfish and self seeking. I Suck.”
And so there they are. The first three months of the Birth of our baby church. Some of my challenges were a bit more spiritual than these. But I chose to enter these because they were the most embarrassing, simply because they had nothing to do with the Spiritual side of things. My hardest challenges are the ones which are the most carnal, because they are a double edged sword. They are my human fears and insecurities and at the same time, they dig deep at the root which I am trying to lay as a church planter. A faithful, solid walk with Christ. These challenges hide my vision of the spirit of God working in me. If I feel unspiritual….well then…I say…what am I doing trying to do this???????
Lesson? Keep coming back to “It is Christ who strengthen’s me.” not “It’s Andrea who strengthens me.”