5 necessities of an abundant church planting life {part 1}

these necessities have surfaced on my journey in church planting. wherever God is leading your spiritual journey, may this be seem like a heart to heart talk on the couch in my living room as we live out His Gospel. i invite you to join the conversation. do you see these as necessities? how so? what is God showing you on your spiritual journey?

1. a baseline is required.

we have to start here. if we skip this, we’ve just attended a “how to” conference session or listened to a good “self help” talk. that’s not what you and i need today. we are involved in a bigger purpose where lives are stake. what we do in our lives must have a baseline.

it’s the simplicities of what Christ gives us to put into practice for His Kingdom and His Church. He saved us and has a purpose and plan for our lives. You know the truths from His written Word. Let’s revisit them for our soul’s sake:

Acts 20.24 says, “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

2 Thessalonians 3:1-5 says, “Finally, brothers,[a] pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored,[b] as happened among you, 2 and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.[c] 4 And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. 5 May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

“He will establish you...” {that’s the baseline}

Often we must return to the baseline. The core of our being. To remind ourselves what He did for us on the cross. Before you and I are church planter’s wives. Before we are mothers and employers, you and I are His daughters.

A baseline is Christ. It is not someone else’s experience, not what you read or learn from others - those are add ons.

But we must not stay on the baseline. We get up in praise. We move forward in telling others the Good News. We live out the Great Commission. We take the gifts, the stories, the experiences He has given us and we serve our church, our city. our family. What is added is up to me and you.

You and I are wired differently with various skills and ministry backgrounds. But one thing is certain...we only lead effectively when planted firmly in our identity with Christ - our baseline.

2. know how to fight.

i’m speaking of prayer. spiritual battle wages in the heavenlies daily. you’ll be attacked when least expected. “Be ready to fight for the call God has on your life. Ministry is a fight. If you don’t want to fight, get out of ministry.” {Jim Cymbala}

Paul didn’t say, “I’ve danced a good dance. No, he said he had fought the good fight.”

2 Peter 1:3 tells us that God gives us everything that pertains to life and godliness. That’s what we need to beg Him for and meditate on each and every day.

You’ve got to engage with Almighty God to see His Kingdom come to your city. If we’re going to see results, I believe this is how God works, it will be because He has responded to our faith, our communing with Him.

2 Kings 19.19 says, “Save us, O Lord, please from his hands, that all the Kingdoms of the earth may know that You, O Lord, are God alone.”

 if we’re not fighting, we are looking like the lost. Wandering around with no clear purpose or meaning. If we know what we’re called to do, we need to know that it comes with a fight. That fight is done in prayer.

Prayer is necessary for church planters. This frustrates the enemy. He doesn’t have to spend too much time and energy attacking churches who are lukewarm and worship tradition and rule themselves. Satan does, however, have to worry about a new church in a new community with people who are dreaming big and believing God for radical movement and change.

3. develop a love for your city. 

pastor’s families should know the city better than anyone else.

This is really practical. It might not always feel “lovey-dovey,” believe me. I have had some moments when I could spit nails at my city, well, I could at least lock the front door and close the blinds.

This is intentional. This takes initiative. Follow social media. Subscribe to online newspapers and local blogs. Have a city map present. Study the transportation system. The school system. Track the values, the festivals, the voices that arise from what you read and research. The more you can attach yourself to the culture early on, the easier the attachment process will be. Not seamless, but easier.

Calendar events you can attend. Majority of your learning comes from hands-on, on-field experience.

If you haven’t gotten there yet, make a plan for what needs to happen the first week you arrive. The first month. The first three months.

Once you arrive, or if you’re there, do your best with the time you’ve been given to fall in love with your city that God has called you to. Otherwise, those moving boxes make for great cocoons.

{Fill in the blank with your town or city} Called to ____________? Well then, we of all people should get to know it better than anyone else.

Because if you’re planting a church there, that means you are serving the people there. And if you’re serving the people there, then you must get to know them. And if you want to get to know them, discover where they congregate, where they shop, where they eat, where they relax. And go there.

 4. consume and contribute. 

Think about this for a minute.  Think about the people that attend your church. What do they consume each week? How do they contribute?

consuming is taking.

contributing is giving.

Just being a citizen requires consumption. You eat the food, breath the air, use transportation and roads. You drink the water and use the parks.

But how are you contributing? What are you giving back?

I’m an advocate for people in our city staying in our city and not packing up and moving once they realize that the city can’t give them what they need anymore.

I hear, “we’re not going to deal with the school system here.”

I also hear, “the city is not kid-friendly. we’re going to go somewhere else!”

Are we only consumers?

Think about Christ and His ministry. Did He only go to towns so He could rest and be served? NO! He healed. He fed. He touched people. He invited others to come alongside Him. He mourned. He ate. He engaged the religious crowd, the government officials, the outcasts. He attended weddings. He went into people’s homes.

Whether you are moving or new to your town or have a few years behind you, what are you doing as a family to help your kids engage the culture with you?

Participate at the library. Sign up for the sports team. Make the folks smile at the nursing homes.

Consume and contribute. Your city will thank you for it.

 5. retreat daily. escape before you explode.

In the early days, you might find yourself doing everything for the love of the church, for the launch of it. You begin running off of energy and pure adrenaline, but then you realize you’re running on fumes. Your tank is empty and you’re utterly exhausted. How do you know?

 Ask your husband. Ask your kids. Ask a close and honest friend. Look in the mirror!

how to retreat:

Quickly build your retreat place at home. That place where you go to spend time with God. {Jennifer Kennedy Deans’ book, He Restores My Soul, helped me with this}

Calendaring is a strong communication skill between husband and wife. It can keep priorities and non-negotiables where they need to be. Decide when you can take some time each week to be alone or to retreat.

 Establish rest times. What days will be family days? When will your husband observe his day off? When are “no phone” times?

I vividly remember our first few months living in san francisco. we moved on memorial day weekend in may and by the time we took our first weekend getaway on labor day weekend in september, i had no idea how empty i was. as we climbed further up the mountains about three hours north of the city, tears began to flow uncontrollably. breathing in the fresh mountain air. being silent. i needed this escape.

Then recently, during our boy's spring break we went away as a family to the mountains and had to return early because of Elijah’s breathing. I cried as we crossed the bay bridge because I wasn’t ready to return to ministry, to city life quite yet. don't let retreat time happen so infrequently, that that time and space can't contain all that you need.

You might have heard in this business, that church planting is metaphorically like childbirth. Which would include the early years like infancy and toddlerhood.

call me crazy, but Church planting can bring post-pardum. You can be excited about the process and the birth of the church, but there’s a let down. You realize your identity was in the start of this and all the sudden, it’s functioning and you’re not!

It fleshes itself out in another way. You become depressed in a new surrounding and overwhelmed with a new way of life and how all-consuming this is for your husband. You cocoon inwardly and outwardly. The days get darker. The blinds stay shut.

 Tell yourself to praise God. David had to. Get outside. It seems to me that Jesus had his  best teaching days when he was walking along the sea or the field or the road.

  Make plans, even if they’re six months from now, to get away. Your ministry depends on it.

 i invite you to join the conversation. do you see these as necessities? how so? what is God showing you on your spiritual journey?
5 more necessities in an upcoming post. thanks for meeting me here.