The season before you embark on your church planting journey whether that is part of a team or leading is so important for a number of reasons. We thought it would be useful to highlight a few of our experiences to help a number of you who maybe feel you are in that season and also to help build a clearer picture of the adventure in front of you. Here’s what we tried to do in the run up to going :
When we knew we were going, we chased down anybody who had went before us. We visited churches, we zoom called churches up and down the country, established churches where we liked what they were doing, church plants a year ahead of us, people with great stories in planting. We were maybe abit of a pest! We wanted to build a directory of courageous people who went before us and we could draw on their faith when ours is running dry. We wanted to hear stories that stir us and allow us to ask – what could Jesus do here in Inverness?! . We wanted to make friends with people who get it. What was striking was that everyones story in planting is uniquely theirs, yes there is similar themes and struggles but its unique to them. Even back then, Jesus was whispering: “stay in your lane and I will do the rest.”
We so love our movement, last year I bumped into a church leader who I Skype’d with for an hour about a year previously. I thanked him, and the sense of unity and encouragement was tangible as though we had known each other 20 years. I can’t explain it, but it stuck with me. This movement called the Vineyard is rich with stories and wisdom and love and its there for us church plants to receive – so go fishing!
INTENTIONALLY DREAM THE WHAT IF?
Before we went , we went through the vineyard discernment process which allowed us to look at the vision of the church and the values, what our DNA would be as a church along with other assessments we had to do. Its all good stuff but we knew God had given us a specific vision but we wanted to dream. We wanted to dig abit deeper, to go beyond ourselves and ask What if? To ask God what if? Mhairi and I have a dream in our hearts that is so God, so beyond ourselves that it will be his doing , his provision, his power and we love that because the pressure is off us. He needs to come through. You can’t go to plant a church with a vision and plan that is achievable by man, a 5 year plan that is safe, strategic and structured. Yes we need to be careful, but we also need to be risk taking. We are aware its risk that has got us here, that needs stay alive.
What are you allowing yourself to dream that is a little crazy, that people say is ridiculous? Write that down and pray. Write that down and be intentional. Write that down and go back to it daily to Jesus.
GET PREPARED FOR THE BATTLE
I remember Steve Nicholson saying at a church planting training event : ” Get ready, its a war out there.” He couldn’t be more true. This has been a massive learning for me personally. There is a massive spiritual dynamic to planting. (Ephesians 6:12) Taking new ground, another vegetable in the stew in your city/town that is going to share the hope of Jesus. The enemy hates it. Our experience was helped by leading a site for afew years, where we encountered and journeyed through some tough stuff so we had an awareness. But this has felt different. We have had some significant battles to overcome in the short time we have been here. We have had to be aware of the small things that look to derail family life, marriage , friendships, time with Jesus. It can be so subtle to begin with.
Also it brings to the surface any stuff you carry that is not of Jesus very quickly. We need to guard our hearts. Love the church, the whole church, love our people, all our people in spite of what is going on, remember who God calls us and not what the world calls us. So if you know anything that could surface, anything that could take a grip , any niggles in your heart that you know is not healthy -bring it to Jesus now, bring it into the light, speak about it with your church. The reality is it won’t stop and be dealt with there – there will inevitably be other stuff in the years to come as we keep short accounts but that will be one of the most important steps in preparing for the battle. Don’t let the enemy have an inch in the run up, because he will take a mile. Worship with all of your heart, immerse yourself in his word, receive prayer at every opportunity. Have someone to keep you accountable, Speak to Jesus to anyone and everyone when you get an opportunity, take risks for Jesus even when everything within you shouts no. Get prepared for the battle.
These are just a couple of things but hope they help paint a picture of our journey and speak into your situation. And as always we would love to connect if that would serve you in any way.
Ephesians 6:20: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”