Emotional Highs and Lows of Church Planting

Sometimes it all feels like a little too much. One week, we are riding the high of a baptism and high attendance. The next week, not one of our faithfuls are there, and we are wondering what we did to scare them all off. To say church planting is an emotional roller coaster is an understatement. Unless, maybe, we’re comparing it to the recurring dream I have where I’m riding the Vortex at Kings Island Amusement Park, and my restraint won’t stay down leaving me tethered only by my frail arms to this life I’d like to keep living. Yeah, it’s kinda like that.

I have written before about the burden church planters carry being a heavy one. Undoubtedly, the dream of a church planting family is to see souls saved, lives changed, and men and women called into the ministry. When I get a taste of this sweet success followed closely by bitter disappointment,  it’s tempting to stop trying all together. To say to my family, “Pack it up, guys, we’re going home!” Because it’s so stinking easy to jump right from a joyous peak to the depths of despair when I am looking only at the present situations at hand.

Philippians 4:6-7 provides some advice for handling these moments before I take that plunge…

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

 

It has been said by some that the Bible is just a collection of ‘Dos and Do Nots.’ In the case of this excerpt of scriptural wisdom, that is true. I, for one, am grateful for this guide printed in plain terms for me. Certainly, it’s for my benefit.

DO NOT be anxious.
DO be thankful for what He has done.
DO ask God for more.
DO trust Him to do the rest.

 

I wish the rest meant this whole country receiving the Gospel. However, the rest is a Christ-centered, God given perspective that mirrors more of His heart than my vain ambitions and gets me off this crazy train of emotions. To me, this seems potentially more challenging than evangelizing a nation because my emotions tend to run the show. The possibility passes my understanding, but it’s true that Christ wants to give me peace as I follow Him. Rather than being an unwilling passenger, I can be an active participant in the continual renewing of my mind that leads to that peaceful place where Jesus works, and I just stand in awe of Him. Everything beyond that is just bonus.

What kind of emotional ups and downs are you riding today?

Share with me in the comment section below how God is working in your life.

 

Thank God for the Pit Stops

Five Minute Friday, JOURNEY

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“We traveled for two years and visited over 200 churches sharing about our missions endeavors. We spent A LOT of time on the road and racked up thousands of miles. Along the way, we made lots of pits stop. Generally, we just stopped for fast-food and potty breaks, but occasionally something else would demand a stop. We were too tired to keep our eyes open anymore. Our toddler ran out of juice. Flat tire. Nauseous pregnant lady. Saw friends getting off and exit and had a spontaneous double date at Waffle House.

These unplanned stops often weren’t welcome on our journey. They seemed to be an inconvenience when we just wanted to get from point A to point B. But they were necessary. We needed to stretch. We needed to rest, run around, stretch our legs, and nourish our bodies. We needed the pit stops.

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I think of the pit stops along the way of our journey to the mission field. The financial support that got a slow start. The family member that spent months ill before passing away. That car accident that rocked our world, took our baby, and canceled a whole month of meetings. The waiting and waiting and waiting for a visa that never came. These things were all unplanned and unwelcome.

But these times were all a part of the journey. They have made us the family that we are, serving in the country where we serve. During these times, we have been forced to seek the Lord and know His heart better. We have learned about ourselves and about each other.

We’ve learned to thank God for the pit stops.”

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The Knife that Cuts and the Knife that Sharpens

Day 25, SIGN

We hung our sign in front of our soon-to-be church-plant this week. We knew this would make us vulnerable to questions and criticism around town. It also made us vulnerable to both the judgment and encouragement of others in our city and all around the world thanks to modern technology.

Those who have partnered with us back in America were thrilled to see the work moving forward and eager to encourage us in it. The simple photo my husband published on social media got quite a lot of love for someone who rarely uses any Facebook features.

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One of the greatest ways we can live the Golden Rule in missional living is to affirm and encourage other light-bearers in their respective ministries. Missionaries on the foreign field. Moms in the trenches of toddlerhood or teenage years. Our pastors and their families. Your children’s Sunday School teacher and prayer-warrior Great Aunt.

Learn about their ministries and remember the names and faces of their mission field. Find ways to encourage them and get involved in their gospel work. You may be swamped in your own service, but it just takes a moment to share a word of encouragement or lend a helping hand.

Set aside differences and choose to see the potential of the mission and the heart of the kingdom worker who toils. Remember that mission work looks different to different people in each stage of life and set of circumstances. Everyone may not do ministry like we would do it, but we must trust they will follow as the Lord leads and be faithful to cheer them on as they do.

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Consider the current issues, transitions, and decisions of the gospel worker. At these times, the criticism cuts the flesh like the sharpest of knives, but words of encouragement put the sharp knife to better work. The kind that crafts into tools fit for kingdom work and builds confidence in the Hands at work in their lives and ministry.

I want to be that kind of sharpening tool for those who work for the Lord. We need each other to get it done.

Who can you encourage in their gospel work today?
I want to hear about your people and your ideas.

Talk to me in the comment section!

 

 

The Golden Rule for the Global Good

Day 24, GLOBAL
“I am wired by nature to love the same toys that the world loves. I start to fit in. I start to love what others love. I start to call earth “home.” Before you know it, I am calling luxuries “needs” and using my money just the way unbelievers do. I begin to forget the war. I don’t think much about people perishing. Missions and unreached people drop out of my mind. I stop dreaming about the triumphs of grace. I sink into a secular mind-set that looks first to what man can do, not what God can do. It is a terrible sickness. And I thank God for those who have forced me again and again toward a wartime mind-set.”
― John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life

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Remember the war

…and that someone cared to share the truth with you whether it was in a Sunday school classroom or in a backyard lawn chair. Consider how that courageous act changed your life and paved your way to the Savior. Think about how the love of Christ tapped you on the shoulder one day and invited Himself in. There are millions dying without the hope we have in Jesus and if everyone keeps the truth to themselves, how will their fates change?

Our prayers matter. Our spiritual growth matters. But doing unto others by proclaiming the name of Jesus in word and deed is the most honorable act of love. The reason we focus on the worldly pleasures and forget the war is because it’s so. stinking. hard. I know this. I am heartbroken over my propensity to stick my head in the sand of my comfortable world and ignore the needs all around me because it’s just easier that way.

But the best I can live the Golden Rule unto others is by introducing them to Jesus, encouraging and reminding them of the steadfast love that completely wrecked my life in the best way possible. I share with them the Word written for them and the Savior who sacrificed His life for theirs. I trust God to do the work but must be faithful to give Him the room.

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee (Titus 2:11-15).

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Remind your fellow soldiers…

Keep encouraged and accountable with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Be quick to praise when the focus is right, and push together towards right perspectives when they’re not. Rejoice over the right things. Weep over the wrong. Remember what Christ died for, and pursue its treasure together.

Consider the power of a global witness, of a band of brothers and sisters insistent on the name of Jesus being lifted high. Our light may be small and our influence limited, but we trust in the power of Christ to make it shine into places we never dreamed it it would reach.

Ask what you can do in your local church to make the gospel known in your hometown. Link arms with fellow light-bearers around the world. Consider your place in God’s global work. Do good unto others, as you would have them do unto you, for the sake of the gospel. Make the message known that was once made known to you.

Do good works, let your light shine. Teach and train and enlist for the war (this includes you, moms!). Do all this not to be honored but that God may be glorified. That our witness will be fortified and our gospel reach globalized.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:13-16).

 

Do you have a war-time mindset?
How can you band together with fellow light-bearers to make His name known?

Talk to me in the comment section!

That One Time All the Power Ran Out Everywhere [Velvet Ashes]

Day 22, Prompt: OFF

Living the Golden Rule to my family today by taking the day from #Write31Days and spending my Saturday with them. I believe you’ll be able to see the theme in my piece that was posted this week on Velvet Ashes. Specifically, it speaks to the necessity of relying on Christ’s power to do unto others when we are physically, emotionally, and spiritually depleted.

Photo courtesy of Velvet Ashes
Photo courtesy of Velvet Ashes
That One Time All the Power Ran Out Everywhere

If any time earned the title for a crisis, it was this one.

The country’s petrol pumps had run dry. Power cuts increased to 16 hours a day. Gas for cooking was unavailable for purchase. Rice, milk, and even water were in short supply.

The electricity was off when we woke up and when we went to bed and would come some time in the night. The comforting glow of our bedside heater would wake me up, and I would fall asleep again with a smile. But it wouldn’t last long.

Since the first month we arrived and the earthquake rocked this nation and forced us out of our new home, I had been operating in survival mode. My husband urged me, “It will all be over soon. We have to keep pushing.”

And we did, for months, through thousands of aftershocks, through protests, and essential good shortages. Sleep deprivation fueled the turmoil in my heart about the issues at hand. Apparently, moving across the world and surviving major natural disasters is a little much for a 3 month new baby and 3 year old girl.

Continue Reading at Velvet Ashes…