It was five years ago that we planted Salt and Light Baptist Church. What started as a “Hey honey, what would you think about…” to my wife as I was finishing up my first degree, has lasted five years of our lives and changed our perspective forever. There have been many answers and many questions, there has been a lot of searching both within and without. Mistakes and missteps have thorned the path but the path has always been passable with a swing of the Sword of the Lord.
I can honestly say that I never pictured myself as a church planter, even while in the heart of it and yet that is exactly what the Lord has made out of me. I never wanted it, studied for it, or planned on it. However, I am ever so gratefully here with a heart that is bursting every time I think over the last five years. Therefore I would like to take the next several hundred words to tell of some blessings I have found in the past five years of planting a church.
1. To be cared about
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.
It is an interesting thing when one is part of a church that actually cares about its people. Churches have a habit of being a revolving door. People come and people go. But in a church plant, every person is not just counted, but every person is cared about and cared for. Every person is actually longed for. We rejoice with those who rejoice and we weep with those who weep.
Sometimes the tightest knots are made from the fewest ropes. A bunch of rope tossed in a bin will make a tangly mess, but just two ends of rope, consciously wrapped around each other make a tight knot that is not easily undone. So seems to be the church, as the pastor and new congregants get to know each other and really build relationships that last.
I continued through graduate school while pastoring the church plant of Salt and Light Baptist and found that no one person was ever upset with me for all the things that I did not get done. Rather I found that everyone was supportive, knowing that my plate was full. I remember having to write papers and take tests, having to call off Wednesday evening services, and not one single person shamed me for it. There was a unanimous encouragement that came from everyone to do good in school and work my hardest. True brotherly love and understanding was demonstrated.
I can testify that through planting Salt and LIght Baptist I have found a people that I care about and a people who genuinely care about me. My needs, my hopes, and my dreams are not just my own anymore, but they are shared with group of God’s people.
2. To be Content
(11) Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
(12) I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
I think every church planter has probably had delusions of grandeur like myself. I wanted to see Salt and Light being the biggest church in Oldham County, Kentucky. I was ready to baptize thousands. I wanted my weekly workout to happen during worship service because I was having to lift that many people out of the baptismal waters. The Lord quickly reminded me of my need to stay in His will and not my own.
We started the church with my wife and I making invitations to those we knew. Sunday, June 5th, 2011 rolled around; we had rented a building; we passed out flyers and sent out postcards; and the grand total for the day… 12 people came to church (5 were my own children). I remember one Sunday when we literally had 3 people in church.
I also remember packing the house for a candlelight Christmas service last year. I remember getting the opportunity to preach the Gospel to a full house. I remember when the first person came forward to give his heart to Jesus and the first baptism, and the second, and the third. From little children to grown men. From those who I knew were on their way, to those who completely shocked me in their desire to be committed to the Lord.
Through this church planting experience the Lord has taught me how to “be abased” and “how to abound.” He has blessed me by teaching me to be content.
To be Courageous
(13) I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
If there is one overarching principle that planting a church has taught me, it is to be courageous for Jesus. The Lord so regularly reminds me that you don’t have to be the biggest, you don’t have to all the money, or even all of the answers. As a matter of fact, you can be the smallest, have no money and no answers, and the Lord can and will still use you if your heart is set after serving Him.
A few years ago we sent out our first mission team. It was a team of three ladies that we sent all the way to an orphanage in Mexico. We had no idea what we were doing, but we did it. We had no idea how we would get there, but God got us there. We have since been to that orphanage 3 times.
The Lord provided a way for our weekly message to be recorded and put on our website. He also provided for us to be on the radio for a time. We have had testimony of persons all across the country listening to the weekly service of Salt and Light Baptist Church.
No matter what the task is in front of us, we don’t have to look with fear like when Israel was headed into Canaan, but refused to go because there were giants in the land. Instead we can rush ahead with strength greater than Samson’s, knowing that with Christ in us, we have the strength to do anything He calls us to do.
I’d love to hear from you. Comment below on some of the unique ways God has blessed your life.
I believe words are a powerful tool. God's word has the power to save, restore, edify, create and convict. I have been blogging for several years and find now, more than ever the world is in need of the truth as viewed through the lens of God's holy Word.
I love teaching about the Lord in any setting. From behind the pulpit, sitting in a class or writing a blog, I find fulfillment in sharing my faith through teaching.