For those of you who don’t know me, two years ago, my dad left a pastoring job at a Baptist church to plant an Evangelical Free Church in Virginia, Minnesota. It’s a small town with plenty of rough edges and church planting in a place only 4% Evangelical isn’t an easy task. Therefore, I compiled a list of things that make church planting suck. Enjoy!
- People leave: Now this has been the hardest thing for me. You see, I came into church planting life with a lot of positivity. I knew it’d be hard work – but I thought that no matter what, we’d have the amazing people in our church to support us. It doesn’t quite work out that way. Out of the people that are in our church now, only a few were involved a year ago and maybe one was involved when we started full time 2 years ago.Seeing people leave – often over things that are related to taste – is discouraging.
- Pastor’s Family Does Everything: Me and my mother = nursery. Yup. That’s it. I try not to complain, I really do, but it does get challenging when week after week it’s either you or mummy or both. Basically, my “get out of nursery” Sundays are when I’m on worship team – and that’s not always the case. Thankfully, we don’t have to clean. But if tomorrow everyone that cleans left, we’d have to do that too.
- Explaining that your church plant is not a cult once a week: Okay, it doesn’t happen that often. I do, however, have to explain to people quite often that, 1) we’re not a cult. We’re Christians that meet in a old photography studio. 2) Why there’s a need to start a new church. 3) Why we don’t have a fancy building. 4) We really don’t judge people’s past and are a loving community. For realz.
- I can’t wear skirts to church without feeling awkward: See, we’re casual. I feel more comfortable wearing holy jeans to church with a zip-up fleece than I would wearing a skirt or a dress. I like skirts and dresses and sadly have no excuse to wear them not that I go to a casual church. That’s why I’m in speech though.
- I feel bad telling others Christians from other churches about how awesome planting is: See, what we’re doing as a church plant is pretty crazy. My daddy left a decent job as assistant pastor to go out on this insane adventure that required a pay cut and also had no guarantee of success. What we’re doing is Biblical in the Acts-Early-church-everyone-complains-about-not-being-like sort of way. We are simple and we are acting in faith because there’s no other way to do it. We’re trying to love our community with the same love Jesus gave us – this includes welcoming drunks to Bible study. (Which in my mind is really, really cool.)
Overall, church planting is revolutionary. It’s biblical and it’s bipolar. The outcome is completely unknown and as my dad preached once, we feel a little bit like the Christians from this passage in Hebrews 11. To sum it up, it says that by faith, some people stopped the mouths of lions and others got sawn in two. Sometimes, I’m not quite sure which it is for my family. Sometimes, I’m pretty sure it’s the sawn in two, “unsure if we’ll make it out”, type of action faith. But whatever the outcome and whatever struggles we face now — God rewards action faith.