Over the month of August we have been learning from central Texas church planters. We’re taking every opportunity to visit the churches they serve, ask lots of questions, and absorb the wisdom that experience has taught them. So, here’s what we’ve gleaned so far on this learning quest:
1) Spiritual preparation is most important.
A piece of wisdom that has been given to me time and again is to keep spiritual preparation first. Andrew Walker, a friend from college who has planted a church south of Austin, brought this to my attention early last month.
In the excitement of starting something new, it can be easy to neglect ongoing steps in discipleship--things like Bible reading, prayer, and meditation--in favor of learning practical tools for planting a church. But time spent developing spiritual disciplines is always worth the investment. I’ve already caught myself with the tendency to prioritize learning strategies, and am daily repenting of it. Time with God has to be the foundation of this new adventure; the rest will follow.
2) God’s provision frees from fears.
The collaboration of churches that are initiating the Grand Parkway church plant have an “abundance mentality partnership.” Kudos to Al Doering, lead pastor at Christ The King for this phrase! (Do people still give kudos? Eh, like we've said before, we don’t claim to be cool.)
Anyway, this phrase serves as a reminder that God is the one who provides our daily bread--sometimes with basketfulls of leftovers! We don’t have to fearfully hoard our resources; rather we can trust that faithful generosity is part of stewarding God’s abundant gifts. Simply put, because God provides what we need, we can use those gifts to support His work without fear.
3) Cultivate passion for the mission.
Last week I had lunch with the Austin area church planters and sought their advice about forming a Launch Team. (A Launch Team is the team of missionary-minded people who will serve alongside us in getting the church plant going.) The experienced planters emphasized the importance of sharing the vision of what we hope this church will be.
So here it is: We want to develop missionary disciples who make disciples. The people who have a passion for this mission are the people we will be recruiting for the Launch Team. We can teach the skills we want to instill in them--the spiritual disciplines, hospitality, teamwork, etc.--but a desire to participate in God’s mission of making disciples is something the Holy Spirit gives.
Our Next Steps + Your Next Steps
Spiritually preparing, trusting God’s provision, and cultivating passion for mission are our current and next steps. If you’re into details, check out the list below for a glimpse of what that’s looking like for us right now. And I encourage you also to begin asking: what are your next steps?
We’d like to suggest three possibilities--Pray, Give, Join Us. Please keep our family, the people in the mission focus area, the potential launch team members, and the supporting churches in your prayers. If through prayer, God leads you to support us with your financial gift, we would be honored if you would partner with us. If through prayer, you feel that God may be stirring a passion for the mission in you, we’d love to talk with you more about that!
Stuff We’re Doing
If you’re curious, here’s what we’re up to in more detail!
Reading & meditating on Scripture--I’m reading through the Gospels on repeat these days. Laura is in the Psalms. We’re both utilizing the Pray As You Go app for meditation (thanks to Nick Arnold for this recommendation!). Oh, and Flint is reading The Jesus Storybook Bible and has just started folding his hands when we pray… it’s the best!
Visiting a few central Texas church plants--Word of Life Fellowship, Alamo Hills Church (pictured above--they meet in a movie theater!), Narrative Church.
Collaborating with church planters--Special thanks to the ACTS Church Network for welcoming me to their fellowship last week and to Ted & Chelsey Doering for inviting us for a behind-the-scenes weekend with their family and Narrative Church!
Reading books--We recently finished Daniel Im’s book No Silver Bullets and it helped give us a vocabulary for some concepts we had already been talking about! Laura is currently reading Start With Why by Simon Sinek and I’m in the middle of Jon Acuff’s book Do Over. Our “read aloud” for our road trip is Rosaria Butterfield’s book The Gospel Comes with a House Key (thanks to the Rowe family for this recommendation - we're thoroughly enjoying it!).
Drafting a framework for the first 18 months--We fully recognize that we have no idea what we’re about to get into. On the other hand, it’s easier to work from a draft than start from scratch. The discipleship pathway and leadership pipeline that we’re drafting for the Launch Team are a good starting point for what we hope to accomplish in the next few months. This exercise has forced us to wrestle with questions we might have otherwise overlooked and made our learning journey this month so much richer.
Packing--Just about done!
Camping--We love camping and decided it was about time to take Flint on his first road trip so we hitched up the 2018 travel trailer to the 2000 Toyota Tundra and hit the trail. We're loving the weather in Cloudcroft!