As I reflect on my life, I can think of many difficult things – going away to college, leaving places and ministries I loved, stepping from 17 years of music ministry into the pastorate of a very small town, traditional church. These things were hard. So was the divorce after my resignation from that pastorate and the rebuilding of my life. Those major changes really catapulted me into this season that I call the most difficult – the early days of church planting.
It began as a dream in my heart shortly after I surrendered to the call to ministry in 1997. The dream started stirring in my spirit again in 2016. By the end of that year, I was going crazy. I had big huge visions of what this would look like. It wasn’t going to be a carbon copy of every new church plant because I hate manmade formulas. I’m crazy enough to want a move of God because Matthew Winters cannot manufacture squat!
I entered this leap of faith with a fear-faith mix. As the weeks went on, I was excited to preach again and hopeful that things would take off. Since our beginning, we have been stable. My problem is that I don’t want to wait. I cannot understand why God has not given fruit to every step I have taken for Him in this process. Where is that youth leader I asked Him for? The children’s leader? The money needed to make things happen? Haven’t I waited long enough?
Some of you are probably laughing because you have been impatient like me. You wonder why you don’t have more time to give to do what you love. You wonder why this season is full of things you would rather return to customer service for a refund.
Church planting has been the hardest thing I have ever done. I have wondered if I got this thing wrong. Maybe I should have copied NewSpring or Elevation’s model. No I shouldn’t have! God didn’t call me to be those pastors or to lead those churches. God will move on His timetable. I cannot hurry Him.
While I have questioned if I should be doing this, I cannot bring myself to quit. I think of it and shudder. Why? This statement from Pastor John Houston sums it up: “The calling is the keeping.” God called me to this, and I will keep pushing through until God reassigns me. At this point, the vision is too big to even think about stopping. I will most likely go down doing this task God assigned for me to do.
It is easy to let the voice of the enemy and the voice of the critics cast doubt. I was reminded in the same message by Pastor John Houston that my labor in the Lord is not in vain (I Corinthians 15:58). God never promised that this would be easy. I will agonize while giving birth to this vision. But one day, eternity will show the fruit of faithfulness. Until then, I will fix my eyes upon the One who called me – the One who is faithful (I Thessalonians 5:24).