As we plant Inverness Vineyard Church , we are on an unpredictable, joyful, life-giving journey. It’s loads of fun, its messy, it has its seasons of busyness, its full on. We see Jesus doing what only he can do and his kingdom coming in Inverness as it is in heaven. It is an amazing journey, and alongside the celebrations and breakthroughs and salvations there is so much other “stuff” to navigate.
One of the main things for me personally has been my journey with worry. There is definitely something about church planting that has laid bare some of my struggles and brings them into the light more than they have ever been. The enemy this last year has had a knack of distracting me and consuming me, in the small stuff, in the little things that actually will have little impact on the bigger picture. Isn’t that so true? It’s almost like the enemy whispers: “look at this..” and when we look he holds a magnifying glass to it to make its presence bigger and appear more harmful than it is or more important than it really is. He is cunning, and will steal our joy and our gaze on Jesus at every turn if we let him. And on occasion this last year, I have let him.
Here are some of the areas in this last year where there has been tough moments, and my prayer is that my story might maybe even help where you are at right now, whether its a church planting context or something completely different.
Provision – When we felt called to Inverness and made the move, God was teaching us a whole new level of his faithfulness and where our security should be rooted. We were worried. Jobs, houses, friends and money -we have to start again. I remember when we were in Aberdeen having dinner in the run up to us moving, boxes everywhere, one of our friends whilst praying for us felt God saying to him “give them the money in your wallet”. At that point a tenner was thrust into my hands and the words “God has got this side of things and you don’t need to worry.” It felt a significant moment and we kept that tenner as a reminder. We got sent out with generosity stamped on our luggage and our hearts from our church family in Aberdeen with a significant cash gift to start the church and arrived in Inverness. There has been countless, perfectly timed reminders that God has indeed got this and still countless moments where we wobble and wonder how it will continue. Then nearly a year to the day of us being sent from Aberdeen marked with generosity, we received a one off gift to our church totalling over £20k!
There was one evening last week I was out walking and praying and dreaming where the church will be in 10/20/30 years time. I have lots of ideas and dreams and constantly get ahead of myself. Right at that moment I saw a ten pound note floating down the street- I never find money. God has it in his hands, and I try to remember those stories when worry visits in the area of provision. We must remember where God has carried us in the past, where his hand has been so evident as we step forward into battles. I love a wee quote , and one I often remember “Remember in the dark what God spoke in the light.” As we plant Inverness Vineyard church, just over a year in I need to remember we are called, we are sent, we are filled with his spirit and we have only just got started and he will provide.
Perspective- Often the things I worry about 1. I can have very little impact personally to change it, 2. Are areas and things that I find myself down a rabbit hole of imagining the worst possible scenario that looks so different to the initial worry 3. Steal my joy and impact my day/week/season. 4. Can distance me from God.
As we have planted, having someone who can speak perspective into situations is pure gold. Protect them with your life. We are not immune to this kind of attack. One or two people we love dearly from the outside looking in, they see it like we often can’t as we are attached to it in a different way and they can speak over us the words we need to hear (or sometimes don’t want to hear!) For me my amazing wife Mhairi can often be that person. She points me to Jesus, she allows me to look back at where he has taken us and she lets me know it will be OK. When I am crumbling like a biscuit in the corner, she carries a kingdom weight to her words and reassures and comforts. She sees it differently. We all need that. I also have a friend I meet every couple of months not connected to our church who loves Jesus and asks me how I am really doing. As well as people who point you to Jesus, the most important rhythm in times of worry or doubt and insecurity is to make sure you have time to be with Jesus. Thats been invaluable. To climb a hill, or drive to a quiet spot and listen to him, speak to him, tell him how I feel. When I don’t have that, I can lose perspective.
Who is allowed to speak perspective and point you to Jesus in your life? (in the words of Woody from Toy Story which is THE most played movie in our house with our boys at the moment….”if you don’t have one, GET ONE.”)
Pressure – One other learning for me this last year has been around pressure. Things will look different, and it needs to and that’s OK. When we started out, everything needed to look a certain way and the dream needed to become a reality down to every little detail – what I am learning is the dream will be built upon step by step, and I have learnt to go easier on myself. The church planting guru that is Steve Nicholson spoke into this exact area at a church planting day saying: “Don’t worry about everything going right all the time, just keep doing the right things.” Each time we gathering I would put a focus and pressure on what went wrong. What I learned from Steve that afternoon was that every week something will go wrong, it’s a given. That was so refreshing to hear, and brought me such a freedom on the pressure I was putting on myself each time we planned something or ran an event. God is in charge, he has got it and he will use it – even if the projector screen collapses mid sermon (it did and I saved it just in time!) These moments of real life are also often the moments that resonate with people, and help them belong in a whole new way so learning to not put so much pressure on myself has been massive.
Hope these experiences help paint a picture of our journey so far. It isn’t easy, it comes at a cost but boy has it been worth it.