by Meg Brown | May 8, 2020 | Hope for a Church Planter, Truth About Life, Truth about Worship
I sat with a towel twisting my wet hair up on our bed, back in our master, while our worship pastor, our children’s director and my husband sat no more than 10 yards away and I listened to their honest, pure, worship. Tears began to fill behind my eyes and threatened to stream down my face. The words that rang throughout my house were, “You are making all things new…” And yet, as I sat in bed with a fever and a desperation to heal quicker, I knew and loved that my church was still being a church.
In the Confusion
This time with the craziness of Covid-19 has been a whirlwind or as some have referred to as being like the movie, Groundhog’s Day… over and over. Social media has gone RIDICULOUS with people now having free time to spout off their thoughts and ideas about the situation (I’ve seen an immense amount of good come out of our situations) but this morning… I could just be… and listen… and softly sing to my King while no one watched. Honestly, I could barely get the words out. Here’s the conclusion I’ve come to amidst all of this chaos and disorder:
- I’ve found peace where once my heart was jumbled and stressed.
- I’ve been able to breathe, really breathe in, and experience pure joy with my kids daily.
- I’ve been able to dig into Scripture and geek out to the possibilities I find there.
- I’ve been able to worship with no one watching.
- I’ve been able to spend time reaching out to my church family more regularly to ask for or pray for them.
- I’ve watched my kids settle in and just be… without the crazy amount of time constraints they used to have.
- I’ve been able to see all of my church family’s faces via Zoom and laugh with them.
- I’ve watched our church family come together in a tighter knit community to support and love on each other even virtually.
Chaos and the Church
It’s not the same… we can’t meet together collectively. It’s not normal… we aren’t allowed to worship together in the same room anymore. It’s not even similar… we are spending church virtually instead of spending next to flesh and blood. But here’s the thing… we are meeting separately… but we are together in spirit.
We’ve got to let go our our stubbornness… our resentment for how things were handled… our need to want things our way… and move into a time of healing, rest, and thankfulness that we live in a time and age where we can still meet- even if virtually.
I think back to one of the first Sunday’s after Jesus’ death. We find the disciples and Jesus’s followers spread out all over the city of Jerusalem… hiding. Some followers had even left the city and were headed home to Emmaus. But when Jesus finally appears to them in Luke 24, they think he’s a ghost. They can’t even believe he’s back!
The Kingdom they thought was coming… didn’t.
The life they thought Jesus had alluded to- was completely upside down.
I mean- the guy they’d been following around had been preaching of a new Kingdom… and then, whelp, he was killed. And now, they were huddled in a house, just waiting for something and thinking that there was no way this Kingdom was going to happen anymore.
“Then he said to them, “Don’t you remember the words that I spoke to you when I was still with you? I told you that everything written about me would be fulfilled, including all the prophecies from the law of Moses through the Psalms and the writings of the prophets—that they would all find their fulfillment.” He supernaturally unlocked their understanding to receive the revelation of the Scriptures, then said to them, “Everything that has happened fulfills what was prophesied of me. Christ, the Messiah, was destined to suffer and rise from the dead on the third day. Now you must go into all the nations and preach repentance and forgiveness of sins so that they will turn to me. Start right here in Jerusalem. For you are my witnesses and have seen for yourselves all that has transpired. And I will send the fulfillment of the Father’s promise to you. So stay here in the city until the mighty power of heaven falls upon you and wraps around you.”
Here’s what’s crazy about us humans: we think we’re soooo smart. The disciples thought it was all over when their Savior was killed (and who’s to say we wouldn’t have thought the same?) They thought the Kingdom that Jesus preached, would never rise up. And yet, it did.
The Kingdom is happening around us. I’m seeing it in the faces of people who are selflessly dropping off food on our porch so that my husband doesn’t have to scramble to make dinner for all of us after taking care of us all day. I hear it in the voices worshipping from my living room. I receive it from the texts and social media messages that encourage and build me up with promises of prayer and healing. I read about it through the words of my King in scripture. I feel the Kingdom when I pray while weeping when no one is watching. It is all around us. God is with us.. even when we feel like church isn’t normal. The Kingdom is here… do you feel it?
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by Meg Brown | Jan 7, 2018 | Hope for a Church Planter, Truth about Church Planting
As we have planted, I’ve had many prospective church plant women approach me asking for advice. “What do I need to know or anticipate with church planting?” “What should I do to prepare for church planting?”
This question was always hard to answer. Since I’m a person who needs to process things over time (to make sure I communicate what I’m thinking clearly), it took me awhile to fully understand what they were even asking me.
When I gave answers at first, like: “It’s nothing like working in an established ministry…” “It will exhaust you spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically…” “You spend most of your time on your knees in battle…”- it didn’t seem to alleviate the stress in their eyes.
So, I’m going to begin to compile a list of things that take precedent in your new world of church planting. Some of the things I offer, people will look at as trivial. Or too easy to say. And honestly, I don’t care. After almost 5 years in the church planting world, these are things that I have found make our world easier. I have not listed them in order of importance, just as they come to me. (Because that, my friend, is how my brain works. Slow processor– remember?)
#1 Keep your focus WIDE
When you become so hyper-focused on one thing within the church plant, you will miss the small details that can cause trouble down the road. As a supportive wife to your planter husband, make sure you pay attention to small details that he may miss. If the Holy Spirit brings to your attention something that may seem trivial at the time, but could eventually blow up out of proportion, tell him immediately.
- You notice the hard line of a man’s face and his condescending tone about something awry in the church… weeks later, he and his family ghost on your texts and voice mails and stop attending.
- More and more problems with leadership within a ministry seem to be being brought to the surface. Red flags… if you will.
- A family begins to pull away from you and circle their wagons with other families in the church. There is no disdain, only whispers of gossip from within the circle.
- Two women clash. Their resentment of each others begins to affect their families and then, their friend circles.
- One ministry is struggling, while another is flourishing.
- The amount of events are killing your volunteers’ aptitudes and attitudes towards ministry.
When your vision stays WIDE, you will begin to see how God is molding the plant into His Vision for it. If you have tunnel-vision, you may be a good ministry leader, but you will not be a good church planter. Make sure that as leaders you notice those small details that can bring a church down. Constantly be scanning for problems as you move ahead towards the future. All good entrepreneurs are always looking to the future. Be present in your present, but be looking ahead to where God has gone ahead of you.
#2 Don’t you dare gossip to anyone about people. Anyone.
Sorry for the super harsh vocabulary- but this one gets me frustrated. We should never open our mouth to gossip or speak unkindly of others within the walls of our church, as well as outside the walls of our church.
I am guilty of this. And it does not end well. God will hold out on his blessings for you and it always affects your church… and ultimately the Kingdom.
So, please, I beg you for the sake of the Kingdom- keep your tongue silent. You may think that you have that one girlfriend who wouldn’t ever pass the gossip on. But guess what- it will color how she views what you are griping about. She will start to watch that person/ministry more closely and have more things to add to your fire. And when that happens? Not good…
Also, don’t tell me that you just share “concerns” or “prayer requests” when you just want to “talk” and make someone else look pathetic… or make yourself look better. Get over yourself.
If you truly want to help someone out by asking for prayer for them, go to the source and ask permission. Then ask what they want to be shared. Be respectful of their privacy.
#3 Don’t criticize other church planters or ministers in established churches.
We are all in this Kingdom-Building together. If we continue to pick apart other ministries, we are literally picking fights with our own calvary.
Come on, people. It seems ridiculous right? But it happens. So put an end to it, starting in your own church. And squash it when it happens. I mean, other churches are still the Bride of Christ… no matter how tarnished. Christ still loves and died for them. Let’s instead learn to pray for each other as churches, instead of compete, gossip and tear down other Brides that God loves.
by Meg Brown | Oct 23, 2016 | Love and Relationships, Truth About Love, Truth Uncovered
The serpent waits in the shadows. He watches and observes every slight movement you make, decisions, interaction with others and words that comes out of your mouth. Waiting.
Waiting for that perfect moment when he can use your words against you. Waiting to divide the flock, isolate and then separate you from the flock.
And then in a swift movement, he will come crashing in. He will use miscommunication, other people’s fears of being called to the carpet, and half- truths to try to cut your legs out from under you. Most of the time, it will be petty issues. Sometimes, it can mean the difference between a person having the capacity to serve or not.
He will twist and discolor people’s thoughts about you to try to confuse and cause division with those who should trust you. And so, you find yourself, pushed to the outskirts, while people bristle and are frustrated with you. They will blame, finger-point or worse- remain silent while others belittle you.
Now, if you’re like me, this kind of thing needs to be processed for a couple of hours. I nod and listen while they rip me to shreds (or accuse me of something that is not entirely true). They may stomp off in frustration or saunter off in accomplishment, while I try to maintain control and continue about my responsibilities at the church. Hours later… I crumble.
I overanalyze, play the conversations over and over… until my true feelings rise to the surface. My shock wears off and then I’m either sad, mad or frustrated… sometimes all three at once. I usually internally scream to God, “Really? I don’t have time for this kind of crude right now!” (I know- right? So eloquent… and completely disrespectful.)
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 5:8-11
The Thing about Satan
Here’s the thing about Satan. He’s crafty. He’s got these tactics DOWN.
Satan is motivated by pride and hatred toward God and the people of God. So, he intimidates with power encounters (as a roaring lion does) when he is stalking his prey. He even uses Scripture to twist the truth and accomplish his agenda… by only using part of the verse… or ignoring the context of the passage (look at the Temptation of Jesus in Luke 4:1-13). He turns people against God or God’s people against each other. He confuses the truth and frustrates the plans of the Church. He is also the Accuser; He will even contradict himself to confuse and frustrate you. Ever heard the voice in your head, “It’s okay, just this once. God will forgive you.”
Yeah. I’m gonna say that’s probably not the Holy Spirit.
Here’s the deal: if I’m being attacked spiritually by Satan, then I can be assured that other believers are out there being attacked as well. And most of us will never speak up. Most of us will take it on the chin and not speak truth so that others will hear it.
I’m not talking about gossip.
I’m not even talking about going to the person you have beef with. (Yet.)
First: Drop to Your Knees in Prayer and Humility
I’m talking about dropping to your knees and going to God with it. This is PARAMOUNT. If you go back two verses in the 1 Peter 5 passage, Peter asks those he’s writing to, to humble themselves and cast all their anxieties upon Him.
Without God’s help, you will not see through Satan’s lies. You will not find peace to be able to forgive the person for their part in the issue. Without God’s help, you may screw the situation up worse- and cause massive division in your relationships… whether in the church, in your home or in your workplace.
Second: Ask for Prayer
Ask a godly mentor for prayer, a person outside of the situation that you trust to pray for wisdom for you (see James 5:13-20.) Don’t ask your neighbor next door… or your friend at church who knows the person- that’s tacky and a little behind the back.
Third: Go to the Person
Go to the person who came to you with accusations and talk to them about it. Acknowledge what is truth- and what was misunderstood. Ask for forgiveness for any part that is on you- and work toward reconciliation. (Click here for more on how to reconcile.)
Fourth: Don’t Listen to Satan’s Lies
If you still wish to “take it on the chin” just know that slowly Satan will trick you into believing that God’s calling for your life isn’t real. He’ll tell you that maybe you aren’t meant to be the person needed at this job, in this ministry or at that organization at all. He tells you that you are just the one who stands in the back and supports everyone else. (Do you see how he takes good and twists it?)
Fifth: Focus on Christ
If any of those above statements ring a bell, I urge you to stop allowing Satan’s whispers into your heart. You have been called and chosen for a task far greater than standing in the back in support. Focus on Christ, His promises and His call.
Hope for Unity and Reconciliation
What gives me extreme hope is that last verse in 1 Peter 5:10:
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
He will restore us. He will give us the strength to hold firm and to be steadfast in truth.
So, speak up… in truth, with grace and forgiveness.
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by Meg Brown | Oct 28, 2015 | Truth about Church Planting
You have to be willing to get dirty.
Church planting is literally dirty. You may find yourself with paint, grease, dirt, urine and any number of disgusting things on your clothes, hands and under your nails. Church planting is not for the faint of heart. If you hate dirt… this is not for you. There will be times when you are on your own… and there won’t be anyone to help you. You will need to roll up your sleeves and do it yourself. Toilets will need to be scrubbed. A/Cs will need to be turned on the night before. Floors will need to be swept and that gap of unpainted wall at the top by the ceiling will need to be painted. And its up to you. It’s either your job or up to you to call someone… or the troops…
You need to be uncomfortable in established churches.
This is a hard one to understand, until you find yourself there. I have no problems with established churches… our world needs them. But this world also needs churches that reach those who don’t feel comfortable or feel like outsiders in established churches. If you are comfortable in an established church, then you should probably stay. God will use you there. But if something doesn’t sit right, and your heart goes out to those who feel like outsiders within an established church… then God can use you in church plants.
You need to be flexible (and have an imagination)!
I do not how much more to lay this out, then to repeat myself. You need to be flexible or in leadership terms: adaptable.
Church planting does not go by the book of established churches. An early church plant will not have an unlimited children’s resource closet, more than likely no kitchen, and probably not even an office. If you can’t imagine running a church without these things… then… well… maybe you should ask yourself some tough questions.
You must be willing to change your worship set last minute, call up a volunteer an hour before service to ask them to help cover the nursery, and most importantly… you must have an imagination to make the most of something that seems dire. You must have an endurance that doesn’t make sense to the normal Christian. When things seem disastrous… you must have a “pick-up-and-continue” kind of attitude.
You need to love people. Like really love people! Not just say you do.
You must have a heart for those who are dirty. And when I say dirty– I mean all kinds of dirt. Literal dirt. Dirty mouths. Dirty jokes. Dirty hearts. If you cannot imagine giving a hug to a child who hasn’t bathed in awhile, walking up to someone who simply terrifies you and carrying on a conversation, or listening to an adulterer’s story… then examine your heart for planting.
Your heart must ache for those that need to know of Christ’s love, no matter who or where they’ve come from.
by Meg Brown | May 13, 2015 | Hope for a Church Planter, Truth about Church Planting, Truth About Life
There are cloudy patches in church planting. The clouds roll in; but it doesn’t rain. The air gets thick with humidity, your hair frizzes and suddenly you have curl in your otherwise straight hair. The cloudy nothingness seems to be burdened with dark waters just waiting for something to set them off. You hold your breath waiting for the clouds to burst and pour upon your dry soil.
And then nothing happens.
Just like life, huh.
And all I can think is… why now? Why, when we were just picking up steam? People were actively seeking God out… families were finding healing… lives were being changed because of Jesus’ sacrifice. And then… nothing.
It is so frustrating. And disappointing.
And in these moments, I ask God, “Why now? What is the point of this cloudy nothingness? Is there a storm brewing? Do we need to hunker down and prepare for battle? Or is harvest around the corner?” (Can you tell I struggle with impatience? And the need for control?)
He whispers, “Wait. Abide in Me.” Because at the end of the day… week or month… that is all we can do. Wait for Him and His timing. And most importantly, abide in Him.
John 15:1-4, “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
Isn’t that what it is all about? Realizing that we do not have control over this church plant and its success or fail. Realizing that it is and has always been His Church. Knowing that He can see all and knows all. And TRUSTING in that. Resting in His Presence with our thoughts and actions… and running to Him with our questions and thoughts.
John 15:5-8,“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
Am I trusting? Am I truly abiding?
John 15:9-17, “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other.
And here is my answer:
In the cloudy times of nothingness…
- Remain in Christ.
- Realize, He chose and appointed us for this.
- Love one other.
Now, to actually do that…