“You’re going to do great!” said the pastor as we talked after the worship service at her new church in Harlem. It may seem simple and trite, but those five words were exactly what I needed to hear that day.
One of my favorite things I’ve discovered as a church planter is this: church planters are some of the most encouraging people on the planet. Why? Because none of us know exactly what we’re doing, if we are doing anything right, or even if the church we are planting is actually going to come to fruition.
So what’s the one thing we do know? We can trust God through it all. And every time we meet a fellow church planter, we know they are walking in that same trust.
My husband and I are planting in New York City and we have been welcomed with open arms, without exception. We regularly meet with other church planters to dream, strategize, pray and share ideas—and failures. There is a shared hope we have: a hope that our city can and will look more like the kingdom of heaven. We believe God is up to something big, we believe Jesus still changes lives, and we believe the church is alive and well.
Walter Brueggemann, in his Liturgy of Abundance, the Myth of Scarcity: Consumerism and the Religious Life, says this: “We can live according to an ethic whereby we are not driven, controlled, anxious, frantic, or greedy, precisely because we are sufficiently at home and at peace to care about others as we have been cared for.” In other words, there are more than enough people and resources to go around. So let’s love as we’ve been loved and cheer each other on!
God is moving; therefore, we need not fear.
God is in control; therefore, we need not take control or manipulate.
God is generous; therefore, we need not worry, be anxious or territorial.
God loves us; therefore, we need not put our identity in our role as church planter.
God is great; therefore, we can do great things through Him and for Him!
Beloved church planter, you have placed your trust exactly where it belongs: in the God who is able to do “far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” (Ephesians 3:20-21 MSG) In case you don’t have anyone else around telling you, please hear this from me, “You’re going to do great!”
Now, go find other church planters and tell them. It may just be exactly what they need to hear today.