Chapter one: “…I believe in the church”
In my early days after college, I was studying the book of Acts and I was seeing the church at its best. At the same time, my church was going through a gruesome church split and I was seeing the church at its worst. In each of the two cases, I saw the local church in its tremendous power. I realized how deeply people loved their church, how transformative it became in the Roman world, and to borrow a term from Bill Hybels, “the local church is the hope of the world.” I was convinced that the only thing that can bring together a world that is broken, divided and alienated from God is the love of God in embodied locally in the church. From there, I knew that I was called to not just serve the church but to see it grow, expand and multiply.
Chapter two: “…I believe in the Holy Spirit.”
A few years later, after seminary, my first project was to write a church planting strategic plan for the large church I served up on the Main Line. In the research for the project, I learned about movements of church plants and how in many places in the country, people aren’t just starting new churches but movements of churches are forming and churches are working together with other churches to reach many more people than ever before. I started longing for that in our region and I ended up getting this phrase in my head that blurts itself out whenever the conversation about calling comes up. I believe that I am called to serve a movement that repopulates our region with new, healthy, Biblical, gospel-proclaiming reproducing churches. It is what I am supposed to do.
Chapter three: “…I believe in the Holy Spirit, still”
I have had two occasions where we were on a path to plant, but detours emerged and God has led us differently. Instead of planting a church, I planted a Celebrate Recovery. Instead of a movement of churches, we worked on a movement of groups around Basic Training. Instead of the new church learning curve, I worked on a Dmin while allowing Celebrate Recovery to bring my soul to places I never would have gone to otherwise. I sometimes feel like the oldest, most over-trained church planter, and at the same time, the weakest, most faith-unfilled person to make such an attempt.
Chapter four: “…I believe I should follow Jesus where and when He leads.”
I laid out my hands last spring and asked God what He would have me do next. It had been a while since we had considered a church plant. In a quiet moment last June, I feel like God brought up the conversation. I had offered to Him that I would plant a church if He would lead and it seemed to me that it was time to begin knocking on that door again. I think I was in our bedroom and Kathleen was brushing her teeth when I said to her, “I think we should probably plant a church…” She responded, “…probably…” No lightning, no sky-writing, just a clear conviction that God’s timing is now. From there, we began knocking on doors and each one has opened up. When we shared this idea with others who cared, they already had the idea and they too saw God’s hand in this.
In some ways, it doesn’t feel like we are blazing a path, but following a path that God is already blazing ahead for us. Either way, it is time to rock. Stay tuned.