You Couldn't Pay Me Enough to Do This...
There are a few things that I love or that I’m really good at that I’d enjoy getting paid for. The NFL. Surfing. Travelling. Eating. Sleeping. None of these is church planting. Here are three reasons why: 1) Saying that planting a church is difficult is an incredible understatement.
We settled into the Great White North in January 2013. Dead of winter. No team. No relationships. Big city. New country. Distinct culture. Go time.
Jesus says, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” So, we follow His example.
But does anything grow in the winter in Canada?
Many times we felt like Peter in Luke 5—“Master, we toiled all night and took nothing!” But church planting isn’t defined by what we catch, it’s defined by faithfulness. This is reflected in Peter’s next statement, “But at your word I will let down the nets.” Hear. Trust. Obey. This is the measure of discipleship. This is the measure of faithfulness. This is the measure of church planting.
With all of church planting’s difficulties, with all of its ups and downs, failures, disappointments, and rejection we remain faithful and there isn’t a single earthly reward that will ever fully and eternally satisfy us over our Father’s pleasure.
2) Saying that planting a church is a calling is a tremendous truth.
For anyone in church planting, the honeymoon period is very short. The initial excitement wears off quickly and the nausea of the roller-coaster soon replaces it. And sometimes it feels like we have nothing to fall back on except the calling that God has placed on our lives.
At times the outlook is bleak. But the Father’s voice says, “Persevere.” At times funds seem scarce. “Trust.” At times relationships are broken. “Love.” At times bold moves are required. “Obey.” And we’re always called to put aside ourselves for the sake of the kingdom. “Sacrifice.”
In Luke 5, when Jesus calls His disciples and tells them to cast their nets just one more time, something miraculous takes place. When Jesus shows up, the atmosphere changes. When Jesus speaks, lives are transformed. And when Jesus calls, we obey. This is our reward.
3) Saying that planting a church is the most spiritually rewarding thing I’ve ever done is the sum of my experience.
We’ve been on the ground for over a year and a half now. I’ve never been tested like this before in my marriage, in my parenting, in my ministry, in my relationships, in my leadership, in my love for others, but I’ve never seen God move so clearly, so incredibly, so powerfully. This has been the most difficult time in my life and also the most rewarding, fulfilling, amazing, joyous, and peace-filled time in my life.
Although church planting isn’t defined by what we catch, what we catch can’t be separated from our calling. In Luke 5, when Peter obeys Jesus and casts his net, harvest happens. And Jesus uses this as a picture of their calling in the kingdom.
I’ll never forget the first baptisms we had at Trinity Life. Powerful. Celebratory. The best baptisms I’ve ever been a part of. Also, I’ll never forget that one of our ladies who just recently professed Christ did so without any of our direct involvement. In fact, she doesn’t even speak English! She understands almost nothing in the sermons or the singing. What she does understand is unity, love, compassion, mission, family, and the Word of God through the testifying of the Spirit. The Spirit transcends language barriers, overcomes cultural barriers, destroys obstacles, defeats the lies of the Enemy, and transforms hearts along the way. That is church planting. And that is why we remain faithful.
So I’d never do this for money. On one hand, you couldn’t pay me enough to do this if that was the only reward. On the other hand, you couldn’t pay me enough to do this because no amount of money would ever equal the rewards that we’ve already received and will receive in our Father’s pleasure.
Plant. Persevere. And watch God produce brothers and sisters!