The Crazy in Church Planting

10 Years Ago...

  • We felt God tugging on our hearts in regard to church planting
  • Attended a Weekend Church Planting Q&A through Ozark Christian College

8 Years Later...

  • We felt God leading us to plant a church in a city where my husband worked
  • Realized- we would eventually have to leave our recent “home” church in order to plant God’s leading only 25 minutes away
  • Had a family uproot themselves from out of state and move into the area to help us plant
  • Got pregnant (whoops… there goes smart planning…)
  • Dreamed about where to plant, prayed about where to plant, talked about where to plant…
  • Began meeting with our team (at the time it was a total of 7 adults…)
  • Had TONS of prayer teams all over the country begin to pray for our team
  • Joined Nexus Church PlantingMichael began to be coached by an experienced church planter
  • Had our 3rd baby boy (people were not joking when they warned us that going from 2 to 3 was “a whole ‘nother ball game!")
  • I began battling post-partum depression (1st time ever… our crazy life definitely wasn't to blame… ha!)
  • Attended a weeklong assessment process with Nexus (making sure we were actually adequately prepared to plant a church.)
  • Had our first Outreach Event… and the only people that attended were… OUR TEAM. (We were literally giving hotdogs away to people that walked by our Pavilion at the park… sad.)
  • Had another Outreach that was more promising… I think there were 13 people there that were not comprised of our team??
  • Lost part of a salary that we had “in place” for our first hire due to a change in support from a church
  • Was given a warehouse and space in a strip mall for next to nothing
  • Lost 3 of our team (I cried a lot during this time) but gained 4 more team members
  • Had our first church BBQ. It was a hit and I began to have hope (not like I’d ever questioned God or anything- that was sarcasm.)
  • Gained a worship band… and we were two weeks from our “Pre-Launch.”
  • Spent an insane amount of hours:
    • Cleaning the building
    • Re-drywalling an entire room (there was carpet on the walls.)
    • Peeling glue off the cement floors (several times)
    • Primed and painted every single wall in those areas
    • Cleaning more…
    • Painting more…
    • Scraping dog urine and feces off the warehouse floor with this crazy rented floor scraper (It had been a doggie hotel. Yes, I am serious.)
    • Climbed up into the dropped ceiling in the warehouse to discover… wait for it… PILES of dog hair from a dog hair vacuum vent. Took several trash bags to dispose of it.
    • Cleaned out the ductwork (think hair…)
    • Glued down carpet squares in two rooms
    • Scoured 4 bathrooms (one with a weird shower…)
    • Procured a stage and then had to fix it due to huge holes in it.
    • Stained the concrete floor upstairs
    • Had random worship practices while sitting on the concrete floor or upside down paint cans
    • Found huge cable spools for tables
    • Borrowed a sound system… and

Take a Breath... I think that's it.

My emotions during this time? Numb. There wasn’t time to pause and think about it. It was constantly… GO…GO…GO.  And then the doubt crept in. We lost our first hire within two months. We lost most of the worship band but gained a dedicated worship leader. We lost support from those close to us. Previous friendships faded and almost ceased to exist when our lives became fast-paced with the church plant. We saw people walk in the doors, tell us that they would be back- and then they wouldn’t. On our actual Launch day, a woman stood up and walked out during the sermon. (When there’s only 16 people in attendence… you kinda notice.) And all this time, I am weeping inside, mostly because of my pride and insecurity. I wanted to run. I wanted to leave. I had thoughts of loading up my car with my children and driving 7 hours to my parents just to escape the constant drama of church planting. We (as a church) were accused of: 
  • Being too young
  • Putting our young family in danger because of the workload of ministry
  • Being egotistical to think that we could (even with God’s Help- goodness!) plant and grow a church
  • Planting a church in a city of churches
  • Trying to be too forward thinking in regards to how church should run
  • Trying to run the church like a business
  • Not giving clear expectations to our first hire
  • Not fulfilling expectations of what a church plant would look like to our original team
  • Miscommunication… a lot.
  • Unorganization
  • "Playing" church instead of being the church
I still wrestle with the pain of all those accusations. I feel deeply about this church that God grew in our hearts to plant. And because I feel deeply, most all criticism hurts. That and the complete and utter physical exhaustion of planting a church can wear on a person. But God has assured me of one thing over and over. He is there. Forever. And he hears my cry for help. No matter how many times…

Psalm 18:6-19

When I was in trouble, I called out to the Lord.
 I cried to my God for help.
 From his temple he heard my voice.
 My cry for help reached his ears. The earth trembled and shook.
 The base of the mountains rocked back and forth.
 It trembled because the Lord was angry.
 Smoke came out of his nose.
 Flames of fire came out of his mouth.
 Burning coals blazed out of it. He opened the heavens and came down.
 Dark clouds were under his feet. 
He got on the cherubim and flew.
 The wings of the wind lifted him up.
 He covered himself with darkness.
 The dark rain clouds of the sky were like a tent around him.
 Clouds came out of the brightness that was all around him.
 They came with hailstones and flashes of lightning. The Lord thundered from heaven.
 The voice of the Most High God was heard.
 He shot his arrows and scattered our enemies.
 He sent great flashes of lightning and chased the enemies away.
 The bottom of the sea could be seen.
 The foundations of the earth were uncovered.   Lord, it happened when your anger blazed out.
 It came like a blast of breath from your nose. He reached down from heaven. He took hold of me.
 He lifted me out of deep waters.
 He saved me from my powerful enemies.
 He set me free from those who were too strong for me. They stood up to me when I was in trouble.
 But the Lord helped me.
 He brought me out into a wide and safe place.
 He saved me because he was pleased with me.

Update 2020:

There's a lot of things now, looking back, that my husband and I would change if we were to go back and have a do-over. We would have prayed more firmly about our original church plant team. We had two couples join us from the beginning, and church planters warned us that our original team would leave us eventually. We were naive and thought, "No way! These are some of my husband's best friends!" One couple left us before the first year was up. The other stayed with us through thick and thin... then left after 5 years. I am grateful for both of these couples... because without them we would have never been able to get off the ground. None of us knew the depth of what we were undertaking until WE WERE IN IT. What we didn't understand was that God would send us the couples and families that we would need to survive past Year Five. These families and couples have been a complete GOD-SEND. They have been flexible... full of grace... and there for us like a true family. These are the people who I call when we're experiencing an emergency, heartache or frustration. Since this post was written, the church God planted has moved twice. We've grown, then lost people, then grown some more. We've gone through great interns and several great children's directors. But through it all, we've stayed faithful to the church that called us to plant. And we're still plugging away......Sharing Truth (through discipleship and teaching)... Giving Grace (learning to accept God's grace and give it to others)... and Loving Others (with our words and actions.)
Called Out.

Called Out.

This oneness seems to be elusive to many churches today. And I wonder if it’s because we are looking for the wrong thing when we look for a church family.

The Sneak and Attack

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.

Who is the Planter’s Wife?

Hey! So... here's a smidge about me.  Meg Brown: stay at home mom to THREE! wonderfully, energetic boys and wife to a Stud-Muffin of a man (also known as Michael) who has been called to plant a church in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  Our life is CRAZY and it never stops.  I sometimes long for peace, quiet, and a simpler farmer's life... but then I am jolted back to reality with the scream of one of my precious boys in the next room.  My daily struggles are: keeping up with the laundry (wait- did I say keeping up?  I meant to say "attempting to keep up" and yet never getting there!), keeping the sanity in our home, and most importanty, growing in my walk with Christ.  (He is definitely my hero!)  Without Him, I would be nothing.  Literally.  Probably just a shell of a person scraping by. For years, I have found myself journaling down my thoughts and feelings.  Only recently have I felt that the words that I have written down could be of much use to others. To make a very long story short, my husband was called by God to be a minister at age 16 (this was a huge leap for him as he was originally set to take over his father’s business in the banking world.)  He stayed faithful though and pursued ministry.  After graduating from a bible college, we began our marriage and the process of experiencing three different ministries in three different states.  At the back of our minds however, church planting was always shadowing us.  Looking back, we can see God’s hand in preparing us for planting… even if it didn’t make sense at the time.  After my husband took a job in the corporate world, he felt God’s hand showing him the need for a plant in Fayetteville, Arkansas. We entered into the church-planting world with expectations of hardship as well as stories of endurance from those who had planted before us.  At the time, we had the support of a team who was planting with us, several churches who were backing us (local and out of state), a church planting organization who offered support, coaching and assessments, and family who became our personal cheering squad.  Prayer teams were assembled, the mission, vision and name of the church was created, and we attended a week-long assessment through the church planting organization (in order to make sure we could actually “handle” planting a church.) We knew from friends/acquaintances who had planted that it was hard work.  That it would be grueling at times, but always worth it.  We had seen marriages put through the ringer (even divorces), church plants divide and die, and stalemate plants never grow.  But we had yet to understand and fully live as a church planting family.  And then it started (no- not the plant… just the crazy prep leading up to the plant!) and my life has not stopped since. The plant is now in full swing... as are our lives. This blog is going to be dedicated (with an occasional side note) to fellow planter’s wives and the life lessons I have learned as a church planter’s wife.  It will be hard… raw… exhausting… but I will be as transparent as I can be.  I hope in some way, my words will help another planter’s wife in some way to find hope… healing… and perseverance.