“Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”
I don’t even know where to start. In fact, I don’t know when it started. And by it, I mean, “The Crazy.”
– 10 years ago, we felt God tugging on our hearts in regard to church planting
– 8 years later, we felt God leading us to plant a church in a city where my husband worked
– Realized- we would eventually have to leave our recent “home” church in order to plant God’s leading only 25 minutes away
– Had a family uproot themselves from out of state and move into the area to help us plant
– Got pregnant (whoops… there goes smart planning…)
– Dreamed about where to plant, prayed about where to plant, talked about where to plant…
– Began meeting with our team (at the time it was a total of 7 adults…)
– Had TONS of prayer teams all over the country begin to pray for our team
– Joined Nexus Church Planting; Michael began to be coached by an experienced church planter
– Had our 3rd baby boy (people were not joking when they warned us that going from 2 to 3 was “a whole ‘nother ball game!”)
– I began battling post-partum depression (1st time ever… our crazy life definitely wasn’t to blame… ha!)
– Attended a weeklong assessment process with Nexus (making sure we were actually adequately prepared to plant a church.)
– Had our first Outreach Event… and the only people that attended were… OUR TEAM. (We were literally giving hotdogs away to people that walked by our Pavilion at the park… sad.)
– Had another Outreach that was more promising… I think there were 13 people there that were not comprised of our team??
– Lost part of a salary that we had “in place” for our first hire due to a change in support from a church
– Was given a warehouse and space in a strip mall for next to nothing
– Lost 3 of our team (I cried a lot during this time) but gained 4 more
– Had our first church BBQ. It was a hit and I began to have hope (not like I’d ever questioned God or anything- that was sarcasm.)
– Gained worship band… and we were two weeks from our “Pre-Launch.”
– Spent an insane amount of hours:
- Cleaning the building
- Re-dry walling an entire room (there was carpet on the walls.)
- Peeling glue off the cement floors (several times)
- Primed and painted every single wall in those areas
- Cleaning more…
- Painting more…
- Scraping dog urine and feces off the warehouse floor with this crazy rented floor scraper (It had been a doggie hotel. Yes, I am serious.)
- Climbed up into the dropped ceiling in the warehouse to discover… wait for it… PILES of dog hair from a dog hair vacuum vent. Took several trash bags to dispose of it.
- Cleaned out the ductwork (think hair…)
- Glued down carpet squares in two rooms
- Scoured 4 bathrooms (one with a weird shower…)
- Procured a stage and then had to fix it due to huge holes in it.
- Stained the concrete floor upstairs
- Had random worship practices while sitting on the concrete floor or upside down paint cans
- Found huge cable spools for tables
- Borrowed a sound system… and…
Take a breath. I think that’s it.
My emotions during this time? Numb. There wasn’t time to pause and think about it. It was constantly… GO…GO…GO.
And then the doubt crept in. We lost our first hire within two months. We lost most of the worship band but gained a dedicated worship leader. We lost support from those close to us. Previous friendships faded and almost ceased to exist when our lives became fast-paced with the church plant. We saw people walk in the doors, tell us that they would be back- and then they wouldn’t. On our actual Launch day, a woman stood up and walked out during the sermon. (When there’s only 16 people in attendence… you kinda notice.)
And all this time, I am weeping inside, mostly because of my pride and insecurity. I wanted to run. I wanted to leave. I had thoughts of loading up my car with my children and driving 7 hours to my parents just to escape the constant drama of church planting.
We (as a church) were accused of:
– Being too young
– Putting our young family in danger because of the workload of ministry
– Being egotistical to think that we could (even with God’s Help- goodness!) plant and grow a church
– Planting a church in a city of churches
– Trying to be too forward thinking in regards to how church should run
– Trying to run the church like a business
– Not giving clear expectations to our first hire
– Not fulfilling expectations of what a church plant would look like to our original team
– Miscommunication… a lot.
– Being “dirty” and not picking up after ourselves
I still wrestle with the pain of all those accusations. I feel deeply about this church that God grew in our hearts to plant. And because I feel deeply, most all criticism hurts. That and the complete and utter physical exhaustion of planting a church wear on a person.
But God has assured me of one thing over and over. He is there. Forever. And he hears my cry for help. No matter how many times…
When I was in trouble, I called out to the Lord. I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice. My cry for help reached his ears.
The earth trembled and shook. The base of the mountains rocked back and forth. It trembled because the Lord was angry. Smoke came out of his nose. Flames of fire came out of his mouth. Burning coals blazed out of it.
He opened the heavens and came down. Dark clouds were under his feet. He got on the cherubim and flew. The wings of the wind lifted him up. He covered himself with darkness. The dark rain clouds of the sky were like a tent around him. Clouds came out of the brightness that was all around him. They came with hailstones and flashes of lightning.
The Lord thundered from heaven. The voice of the Most High God was heard. He shot his arrows and scattered our enemies. He sent great flashes of lightning and chased the enemies away. The bottom of the sea could be seen. The foundations of the earth were uncovered.
Lord, it happened when your anger blazed out. It came like a blast of breath from your nose.
He reached down from heaven. He took hold of me. He lifted me out of deep waters. He saved me from my powerful enemies. He set me free from those who were too strong for me.
They stood up to me when I was in trouble. But the Lord helped me. He brought me out into a wide and safe place. He saved me because he was pleased with me.