Unless The Lord Builds: Some Reflections Thus Far on Church Planting

Over this past year since a few of us have begun this exciting and difficult journey into starting a new church, one of our most significant tension points has been to maintain the discipline of a slow, deliberate, listening, prayerful position. We had a conviction to be very intentional to not just create a structure or a build a warehouse where disciples can be manufactured but to take the necessary time to listen and ask God (along with those in our community) what it looks like to cultivate a culture and context where this ridiculous message of love and grace can be received and experienced.

We knew this would be difficult for some (and us!), as we often feel more comfortable within set structures and where we know what everything exactly looks (will) look like. I’ve heard many times over the past year, “When is this thing going to start?” “Why are we taking so long to really begin?” In fact, the question is still out there, “are you officially birthed?”

To see our community begin to form is a beautiful thing!

The hard part for me is that I have been reared and trained in mega-church, let’s “blow-this-thing-up”, start big, numbers-centric, type of evangelical culture. So out of my past, it felt like the thing I know how to do is to create a specific timeline for the church with metrics attached, and to build a program/structure which will allow people to easily assimilate into. I can’t say how grateful I am that the Spirit has continually been showing me/us the path that we are to be on. It’s the path of patience. It’s the path of slow growth. It’s the path of health. It’s the path of prayer. It’s the path of relationships.

We believed it was important to not put the cart in front of the horse. Let’s not get out in front of God. The formation of our church community should flow out of intimacy with Jesus, so that we can prayerfully understand how to best serve the needs of our community and city.

To see our community begin to form is a beautiful thing!

A bunch of us were hanging out the other night talking about what friendship and discipleship looks like. How do we care for one another? How do we care for our city? “God, help us to be people who seriously just care.” There was such a sweet spirit in the room, even though we were all so different and coming from different places. Some really wanted structure, and some absolutely did not. It was a great reminder of how God has been working to put us into a place where we can know and lean into the needs of our community, and be open and attentive to the needs in our city.

Psalms 127:1 says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.”

I'm grateful that we've been given the wisdom early on in our church plant to take things real slow, lay a sure foundation, which is Jesus Christ, and let it be all about relationships.