April 22, 2009

What I've Learned So Far

May 4th will be a year since we officially announced we were coming to Virginia to church plant. I can hardly believe it's been a year. It has probably been the fastest moving year of my life, full of new experiences and challenges. I've been thinking alot lately about what I've learned so far. "So far" are the most important words in that last sentence because I KNOW I have so very much to learn and experience still. But I wanted to share what I'm learning so far.

  • I don't know if it is the preferred method of evangelism, but MY preferred method of evangelism and seeing someone come to faith is in the context of community. What I mean by that is that the church as a whole should be intimately involved in praying for, loving, and sharing with those who are part of the church but don't yet know Jesus. Ideally, church should be made up of believers and those they are serving and loving who don't know Christ yet. So when one comes to faith, the entire community rejoices because they have invested through love and prayer in that person and they genuinely love that person. Of course evangelism will happen outside the church, but I think by incorporating unbelievers in our lives and in the community of the church, we experience God and the gospel in a powerful way. I have learned this in church planting.
  • I have learned that church should be simple. Have you ever thought about why God created the church? Church exists for believers to come together and celebrate Christ and worship God, to edify one another, and to grow in sanctification by being together. Acts 2:42-47 is my favorite passage about the church. It is organic, moving, alive, and centered around relationships that are centered around Christ. Church isn't to keep Christians busy. It should be a refueling so that we can go back into the world to minister to those who don't know Christ.
  • I have learned that it is God who builds His church, not a person or a personality or a style of worship. I have found that sometimes we'll do things we think are perfect for reaching people and nothing results from it. And then suddenly from behind door #2 comes an unexpected opportunity or a person finding us randomly. I have learned we must be faithful and obedient in the daily routine of life, listening for the Spirit to lead, obeying that leading, and then leaving all the results up to God.
  • I have learned that it is good to have a burden for the church. In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul lists all these hardships he has endured and then he  says, "besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches." He lists it as a burden that he carries out of love for those he has served. Sometimes I have struggled with a burden for the church because it requires vigilance to stick with it, simply because the church and her people can be disappointing sometimes.
  • Church planting itself is difficult (as I am learning), but (again I don't know if this is my preference or the best model) it is done well as a team of people working together for the same purpose. Several people have moved here with us: Nick, Faith, Marylyn, and Bill, and then some were already here: Sherrie and James. But they have all joined in with us with the same heart and the same spirit to reach Cville and it has been a protection and a joy for us. There is nothing better than believers working in unity to attempt to bring honor to Jesus!
  • Finally, I have learned (as I should have learned long ago) that the Christian life requires sacrifice. If we are believers and we are not experiencing a call to sacrifice in order to serve and love others, something is wrong. We shouldn't avoid sacrifice, but follow in the steps of our Savior, who sacrificed everything. Sacrifice is hard, but an essential of the Christian faith. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross. We can surely give of ourselves.