One year ago this week I was on the stage in the chapel of Olivet Nazarene University in front of 1500 people being introduced as the NYI president of my district.
This week I am by myself in the hardware section of Lowe’s selling screws and doorknobs to people who only know my name because it is pinned to my shirt.
Who knew church planting could be this fun?
My wife Kara, two year old son Asa and I moved to Lawrenceburg, Indiana a little over two months ago to start a new church. We left behind friends, family and regular income to embark on this journey that Jesus was calling us to. When I first considered church planting I had a romanticized idea of what life would be like. Sure, there would be some bumps along the way and even some disappointment, but I didn’t expect it to be this tough!
When we arrived at our new home we quickly discovered it was not fit for our family to live in just yet. The house was infested with fleas, had broken water pipes, a gas leak and a smell coming from son’s future bedroom that would make your eyes water! Some friends came to our rescue and we ended up spending our first month as church planters living in a borrowed horse trailer!
The horse trailer was nice and all, but it really hampered our plans of getting settled in and meeting our neighbors. One of our plans for connecting with the people around us was to host monthly parties in our home and invite all of our neighbors and people that we met. We were near the occupancy limit of the trailer with just the three of us and inviting our new friends to a party in a horse trailer just didn’t seem like a good idea! We were beginning to get discouraged, not only were we forced to live in some cramped quarters, our thought out and prayed over plans started to unravel. We were frustrated, confused and praying over our next steps.
Kara and I picked up a newspaper our first night in the horse trailer and decided that we were not going to just sit there and feel bad for ourselves. God was aware of our circumstances and was at work even if we didn’t understand or know how. We began to look for opportunities to enter into the life of our community instead of expecting them to come to our parties. I decided to attend an annual meeting for the revitalization of the Main Street area of our community and Kara decided she would attend a toddler time program at our local library. Both of those events helped us to develop relationships and connect with networks of people that would have taken months to do otherwise.
Kara and Asa attended the toddler time group and discovered that it was about to take a two month long break. Kara had the moms exchange e-mail addresses and encouraged them to keep meeting weekly even if the library didn’t have a special program going on. Through these relationships Kara and Asa were invited to a birthday party, took a trip to the zoo and supported the other moms who wouldn’t be meeting without her encouragement. Next month we plan for all seven moms, one grandma and their ten toddlers to hang out in our back yard for a water party!
At the Main street meeting I was able to meet the mayor of our town and just about every business owner, and many civic leaders. I was able to learn how the community operated, along with the values and rhythms of the people here in just a two hour meeting.
I have been reminded throughout our first two months of church planting that this is Christ’s church and He will build it. When bumps and road blocks hinder our plans I’m learning to ask Jesus what he is up to. I have been encouraged lately by Joseph’s words to his brothers in Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” As we move forward with the starting of a new church I know that we will face many more obstacles and challenges along the way. My prayer is that we will trust Jesus in those difficult times and know that He is working out his plan for the saving of many lives.