The U-Haul is packed up and we’re somewhere between Grottoes, VA and Greenville, NC. I won’t have time to post for the next few days during the move, so I’ve prepared some posts ahead of time about the lessons I’ve learned during our nine years in VA.
Reflection #1: Don’t ask God to bless your plans. Instead, chase after Him.
I’m not against strategic planning. Flying by the seat of your pants will eventually leave you in your undies. But I think many church planters plan so much that they push God out and find themselves asking Him to bless their brilliant plan. I think God chuckles at our “brilliance” and lets us sweat for awhile to see just how finite we really are, and sometimes He lets us sweat until we realize that, in the grand scheme of things, we’re really not all that smart. He lets us sweat until we have no choice but to chase Him.
When we planted Discovery, I was all about mad planning. Small groups, videos, sermon calendars, service orders, outreach, advertising, all of it. We tried so much stuff–and most of it fell flat. Maybe it was my organizational skills (which are a little rough around the edges). Maybe it was how I tried to communicate things. Or maybe it was just God letting me sweat.
January 2007 was a watershed month in my faith and ministry. I got tired of relying on myself (and realized, for the first time, that this was what I was doing), and just asked God to show me where He wanted our church to go. The result was a four month odysseyof chasing God and His plans for our church, which resulted in us reorganizing into a network of microchurches.
I was also convinced that I would live in VA and work at Discovery until I died. In June 2008, I discovered that was my plan and not God’s. I’d learned my lesson, and I didn’t wrestle with God on this. My wife and I decided to chase Him, all the way to Greenville, NC. And it may not be the last stop on the journey. We’ll see.
On my computer, I have this strategic plan for the new microchurch network in Greenville. I spent a lot of time on it. I still look at it. I’ll still use parts of it. But I’m not bound to it. I’m simply taking the lessons learned in VA and chasing after God’s plan for us in G-Vegas. Part of that is me tent-making through hospice chaplaincy–a job I never would have seen myself doing. But the possibilities for ministry are endless, and I’m excited to get started.
What about you? Are you asking God to bless your plans, or are you really just chasing His?
Tomorrow, I’ll reflect on a myth that many church planters believe.