We're still here, still very much in the thick of it.
Maybe, more honestly, we're in the very beginning of the thick of it with church planting.
Our little baby church is just a few months old and there is so much to learn. The funnest (sarcasm) part about church planting is that most of what you learn, you learn from doing wrong or being corrected. There are wise and precious people who speak into our lives and our church and give us wisdom, but so much of it is just being on the ground, doing the day, and seeing how things shake out. It's humbling to be at the start of a thing, knowing you're potentially not doing it right, but so wanting to because you believe in it whole-heartedly.
So the past few months have been full. Full of people, full of making mistakes, full of giving grace and receiving it back. They've been full of reaching over and praying for my husband in bed, knowing both of us feeling the kind of anxiety that shakes your bones. It's been full of refreshing little gifts from God - a conversation here or a new friend there. Just reminding you it's going to be ok and it's all for Him and it's not about you, anyhow. In all honesty, I'll tell you that in the last few months - a lot of my fears and insecurities and burdens have risen to the surface. My head and my heart has been full of processing those, taking them to the Lord.
I was talking one day with my mom and my sister, and my sister lovingly pointed out, "The challenge for you is going to be flipping the script. Not just acknowledging 'church planting is hard' and talking about how it's hard for the next few years. Really flipping that and believe some truth when it gets hard." I couldn't agree more. Nothing is worse than someone who's come before me saying, "It's going to be SO hard" without giving some hope or a word of encouragement or even some advice to help make it LESS hard. But I've been doing that to myself, just saying over and over again - This is hard. This is hard. This is hard.
So this is me. Publicly flipping the script. And praying that as I type these words, they'll ring true in my heart and serve as a reminder on the "hard" days.
I feel so alone.
But I'm not. Christ came from heaven to rescue me, the Holy Spirit lives inside me, and if God is for me - who can be against me? I have an amazing husband who's been through hell on earth with me. He sees my ugly sleeping face and he's seen me at my most sinful, and we're still here. We can still hold hands and hug and laugh. I have four kids who rely on me and need me. Mostly, they need me to stop being so overwhelmed with how alone I feel so I can get down on their level and remember that they're humans who are needy too. I have friends who really want to help, really want to pray, really to want to fight for me if I'll let them. Even if they're not here, even if they don't understand. They're on my team and want God's best for me. And God has brought people, maybe not 100s and 1,000s - but he's brought people - who want to be in community and seeking God together at Gospel Community Charleston. I am not alone.
I feel so tired and weary, I just want to take a nap and forget church planting.
To this, I tell myself - who's strength are you working in? Yours or His? Throw on some worship music, drink a big glass of water, walk around the house and pray and praise and thank Him for the role you've been given. And if you have to, forget about church planting for an hour. But never forget about the Kingdom of God. Because it transcends all churches and all seasons, and that's what you're interested in building anyhow.
I'm not a leader. I'm not a good leader. I don't know how to do this.
Maybe that's true, but what's the opposite? Do you want to approach this day believing that you've got this? That you're awesome and capable and don't need Jesus? No. His power is made perfect in your weakness. Confess those mistakes, go to the people you've hurt and tell them you're sorry. Try again tomorrow.
We are destined to fail.
"You know, 80% of church plants fail?" First of all, don't say this to a church planter or his wife. I promise you, they've heard it. They wake up with on their brains. You don't congratulate a pregnant woman and then remind her of miscarriage percentages, do you? Also - I googled it. It's not accurate. 99% of church plants survive the first year and 68% survive the first four years. If you make it through the first four, you've got a good chance after that. And what is failing? 30 people seeking God together is 30 people seeking God together. If they're 30 people seeking God AND seeking to bless the city around them, I'd say they're wildly succeeding. So to preach to myself, I'll tell you, self - stop thinking about failure. God called your husband to this and the two of you have made it through MUCH harder things to make it to this point. Start thinking about the possibility. What if more of your neighbors knew and loved Jesus? What if more people in your city felt hope in their bones? What if God started doing an Isaiah 61 work in your kid's school? Stop thinking about that (incorrect) statistic and start asking God to making His Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.
It would be so much easier if...
There are a million things to fill in the blank here. It would be, It could be. But these are the lines He has drawn for us. This is the church He's called us to start. And we can see it as a burden or a privilege. And? We do ministry in the United States. We're not smuggling Bibles or hiding from the police. We can unite our people on instagram and drink coffee while we worship. Don't believe the lie that you do any of this because it's supposed to be easy and don't look to the left or the right.
This is, of course, only a small snippet of the story.
God's Bride moves forward and stays sustains by Him.
This is just one church planter's wife preaching to herself on a Sunday afternoon and trying very hard to flip the script.