At age 67 I have the privilege of planting a new church. Never thought I’d be having this much fun at this age, but I am.
Still work for the church I pastored for 29 years, preaching one service a weekend. Travel a bunch, teaching others to disciple leaders and multiply churches from within the local church. And, up till a few weeks ago taught at an “extension service” in a movie theater about 25 miles from our church campus.
We kicked off the extension four years ago in an attempt to support several people who had come to the Lord but wouldn’t make the drive over the mountain to church each week. Our goal was to bring church to them.
The original crew showed up exactly one time. However, lots of others came and decided to join with us.
It’s been a fun-filled four years but we have struggled to put up any strong numbers. But that recently changed. Several weeks ago, a team from the parent church came to visit. They went home convinced that the concept of an extension campus cramped our style. Their recommendation…that we plant the group as an independent church.
The cool thing is that from the day we made the decision, we’ve grown numerically. And, I am not talking about the day we made the announcement. The first Sunday after the decision, before we were ready to talk about it, we overflowed with newcomers. And we’ve grown each week since. This weekend saw the largest number of decisions for Christ in our history. Three times as many people accepted Christ as on our previous record-breaking Sunday.
Things are good, but…
Suddenly I find myself at the center of a whirlwind. Back office operations previously covered by the parent church will soon fall on us. We need to create new teams, new logistics and discover the vision that will carry us into our future. As the lead pastor, many of these decisions involve me at one level or another. I’ve become a very busy man.
So far, so good. However in the midst of the legitimate busyness, a bunch of things have gone wrong around our house. A business deal exploded requiring a full day of research and another day spent with an attorney (cost money, too). My wife’s dentist has suspected cracks in two molars for several years, but they wouldn’t show up in x-rays. Last week they did—three full days out of our lives including today’s appointment to pull both teeth. Sunday morning we awoke to the sound of rushing water—a pressure relief valve broke in our sprinkler system. This one is made of brass and soldered into place so getting it fixed isn’t real easy.
Why am I crying to you about these things? Because I believe they are orchestrated distractions. The enemy of our souls is fighting back against the good things God is doing. He would defeat us with details if we let him.
The solution to all of this seems to lay in the arena of prayer, praise and even fasting. I am reminded of a scripture in Philippians where Paul encourages believers to refuse to be intimidated by their enemies, which refusal will announce, to them their defeat and the victory assured to Christ-followers. I’m doing my best to remind Satan of the Cross while reminding myself of the last chapter in the Bible—we win! This is spiritual combat and it is part of the process of planting a new church.