Last August, Tyson and I moved to Los Angeles. Like most people in this city, this isn't our home. Unlike most people, we weren't here to pursue fame, fortune, or a frat house. We weren't really quite sure what we specifically came here for, but we knew God provided money, time, and freedom to start a journey as church planters in this urban community.
In the past 365 days, our lives have shifted a colossal amount. From small(ish) town to big city, quite a few things have changed, some for the better and others, not so much.
We drive less and walk more. We feel less convinced about political staunch and more convinced about the power of the people. We drink coffee amongst hipsters and business men instead of pastors and Bible studies. To most city people, we are "so young" to have a family. Whereas back home, we felt like late bloomers.
And while the majority of visible change has happened on the surface of our lives, there is a deep and raw evolution happening in our hearts and souls.
I was recently asked by a friend what I felt I was learning in this season of church planting and my response was,"I have no idea."
"Look closer," she responded. "You might be surprised to find out how much God is actually teaching you."
So here is my closer look:
1. Vision is everything.
Without vision, people perish. True and tough. In any movement, there has to be a clear vision of where we're headed or we'll get lost, distracted and discouraged along the way. If a team is involved, vision is that much more vital to the unity and vibrancy of that group. The best way to do this? I have no idea yet.
2. A church can't be built on the talent of a few, but rather the sacrifice of many.
A pastor and a worship leader are necessary for church planting, until they aren't anymore. Meaning, if their families are the only ones who show up to church, that is not a church. It's a dinner party. Community needs people, of all different professions, personalities and passions, in order to thrive. I'm lucky to say our church has that.
3. You win some & you lose some.
Sometimes ideas we thought were genius, fell completely flat. And sometimes the impromptu dinner parties and Dodger games are our most effective community builders.
4. Money is just a means to an end.
Not all, but most church planters we've encountered are learning good stewardship when it comes to finances. And by "good stewardship" I mean how to make a week of groceries last for two and how nifty thrift stores and Craigslist can be. There's something to be said for seasons, when it comes to money. This is a season, it is not the end. And a paycheck can't provide satisfaction.
5. There is no end result; just a journey that changes with time and growth.
I have no wisdom nor how-to's on how to grow a church, plant a church, or fundraise. But I do know one thing: God's hand of guidance is always upon those who seek Him, however the path may not look exactly like our crayon drawn road map. It's much more scary and beautiful.
We are not wise in this thing called "Church Planting." We feel rather inadequate actually. But we are living proof that God can use anyone, He can call anyone, and equip them for the task at hand.