Over the past eight months, New Haven Church has grown from a small group bible study that consisted of 10-12 people to an Acts 29 Candidate Church meeting monthly for preview services in the Chapmanville Regional High School Auditorium with around 60 people meeting together to make much of Jesus.
This month we will launch our second sermon series titled Stranger Things, and we will baptize our third new believer! The work that God has done so far at New Haven has surpassed our wildest dreams. God truly is able to do far more abundantly than we could ever ask or imagine, and I’m convinced that the best is yet to come. The journey so far has been one marked with victories and defeats along the way. The victories have been sweet, and the defeats have been hard. The journey has also been a humbling learning process. I’m humbled by what God has taught us so far as a new church, and I’m looking forward to what He will do in the future. Here are a few things that I’ve learned over the past eight months as a church planter.
Church Planting Is War
If you have ever spoken with a veteran who has experienced real war, they will tell you that training can only prepare you so much for what you will experience when you’re in the trenches. There’s nothing that can really prepare you for when the enemy begins emptying magazines of ammunition and hurling grenades at you This is also true with church planting. Don’t be fooled, church planting is war.
Remember the words of the Apostle Paul that were addressed to the church that was planted in Ephesus; “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rules, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” – Ephesians 6:12 (ESV)
The moment that you decide to follow God’s call on your life to plant a church, the enemy is going to begin emptying magazines and hurling grenades at you. Prepare yourself for war. Prepare yourself to wrestle against cosmic powers of darkness. Strap up your armor, and get your sword and shield ready.
God Gives And He Takes Away
As church planters, we love to herald the message that Jesus builds His church. But, if we truly believe that, we also have to believe that He takes away at times too.
Church planter, the moment that it goes public that you’re planting a new church in your city, people are going to begin showing up. You’re going to get text messages, emails, and follower requests from people who are genuinely excited about your church plant. People are going to begin showing up at your small groups and to your preview services. But, here’s the thing, as exciting as that is, not all of them are going to stick around, and that’s okay.
Now, I’m not saying that it’s not going to hurt. It will. Some of these people will be family, good friends, and people who you thought would plug in for the long haul. It’s going to hurt like hell. But, when this happens (and it will), don’t be surprised, and don’t get discouraged. Far too often church planters are tempted to locate their identities in their church metrics, and their hope in church growth strategies. Don’t fall into this temptation. Ground your ministry upon this foundational truth: God is sovereign. We can plant seeds, we can water, but ultimately it is God who gives growth (1 Cor. 3:6). The Lord is good when He gives, and He’s good when He takes away.
Sabbath Is Essential
This is something that is so simple, but yet so neglected. As a church planter, you need to rest. You’re not superman. You may have read a ton of books on church planting, you may have been to a ton of church planting conferences, and you may be extremely gifted, but there comes a time when you just need to rest and recharge the batteries and take a Sabbath. Don’t forget that you’re at war. You’re at battle with the cosmic powers of darkness. If you don’t rest after the days battle, the enemy will eventually capitalize on your weariness.
We also see in Genesis 2:2 that when God finished his work of creation on the seventh day, He rested from all of His work. Rest is built into the natural order and flow of creation. God made it this way because you’re a finite creature and you need to rest. Sabbath was made for man to rest and re-charge (Mark 2:27).
If you want to learn more about how to effectively Sabbath, you can check out this post.