Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of what the next few weeks/months will entail, we thought it’d be fun to give you a behind the scenes look at how God led us to this path. This article was originally published in Mount Calvary Lutheran Church’s July newsletter, “The Mount.”
We were sitting before a panel of pastors in the conference room at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Austin. The year was 2010 and as part of my application to seminary, Laura and I were interviewed by the Austin pastor’s circuit.
After learning that we were both trained as Directors of Christian Education (DCE), they asked how we planned to navigate those professional roles through seminary and beyond… so we started telling stories of four college years of doing group projects together. Even before we started dating, we had discovered that our gifts were complementary and we quickly figured out how to work together to accomplish more than either of us could individually.
It was then that one of the pastors asked a question that has reverberated in our minds for almost a decade: “Have y’all thought about church planting as a team?”
It’s a simple question, but one that God has brought up time and again over the years. I studied church planting in seminary, but the opportunity never really presented itself. In seminary and after graduation I started the church planter assessment application several times, but never actually completed it, as though God kept tapping the brakes. It was shortly after our son was born that it suddenly seemed as though God was saying, “Let’s go.”
I’ll come right out and say it, the timing couldn’t have been worse. (In our minds, that is.) This was the season where we should have been trying to make things more stable, not less. We were short on sleep. We didn’t have time in the day to complete one more thing… isn’t it funny how none of that matters in God’s calendar?
The initial church planter assessment came back positive, and after an intensive personality test and an in-person interview, Laura and I were fully recommended for church planting from the Texas District of the LCMS. Even though we now knew we had the necessary gifts for that endeavor, we had no clue what our next steps would be. It was as though we had tied our shoes but God wasn’t sharing the map.
Then we got a phone call. It went something like this: “We’d like to plant a church in north Houston, and we thought we had a guy, but God had other plans for him. We were praying in the area last week, and one of the pastors prayed that by the next time we met, we would have the name of a person to talk to about this plant. I’m calling because your name was given to me, and I wanted to see if you would be open to talking with us.”
The voice on the other end of the line was my college friend’s dad, Al Doering. The church he serves at as well as two other congregations had been praying over this target area for several years already. They felt that this would be an ideal area for a new church to begin, and research proved them right.
A couple of years ago, an extensive toll road called the Grand Parkway (or 99) was completed. This highway converted formerly hour-long commutes into twenty minute treks. With the completion of that road, the population along the Grand Parkway began to explode and is projected to grow by another 18% in the next five years. Sixty percent of the population is made up of young families, many of whom are unchurched or dechurched.
What is most astounding about the target area (along the Grand Parkway, west of IH 45) is that the few churches in the area have nowhere near the capacity to be able to reach the growing population. Looks like there’s harvest work to do.
Continued in Tying Shoes: Part 2.