Like anything else, we can get really excited about things in life right? A new car, a new house, a new job, for some of us hood folks a pair of new Jordans. But what happens when the excitement wears off in a church plant, what happens when the excitement you had, the reason you were so pumped up about something starts to fade and the reality of it becoming more and more real…then what? What happens when the pressure comes, when people don’t agree with you, when people start bickering and arguing over things that aren’t even really that important… then what?
That’s a really great question and the answer is this, that’s when the hard work of ministry really kicks in. That’s when all the spiritual attacks get real, that’s when we continue to remind ourselves that church planting is a calling, it’s not a “thing we do” for a couple of months. Don’t get me wrong, there are people who support in such a way temporarily. There were many people who were a part of our original launch team that left after the church was planted. We are glad for their help, grateful for their support, and thankful for their role in launching RCLA, but now comes the reality and extremely hard work of growing, nurturing, and loving the congregation and community as we strive to teach them about Jesus, live out the Gospel, and pray they follow suit.
I think it’s safe to say that of our original launch team (no longer use the word CORE), at least half of them have parted ways with us for different reasons, and in the midst of potentially debilitating fears that can seem to hold the flesh hostage (extremely true), God is/ was working behind the scenes. As some left on to their next mission, God brought in others, He was doing an amazing work that, at least for me, had me feeling so ashamed for not having trusted His sovereignty. Seriously, how the heck can I be reformed, acknowledge God is sovereign yet not trust Him? That makes me either one very weak and wannabe “reformed” Christian or, just a very real human, a very real sinner, one that needs to be checked and put in his place by God often, to remind him just Who is in charge.
So now what? Although the initial zeal may be gone (not for everyone) the knowledge of God remains, the call of God remains, and a team that God divinely assembled to stay and fight remains… some have moved on but God has brought others in. I think of what would have or would NOT have happened if we’d all thrown the towel in when things get rough…when ministry can appear to be mundane…when we’re tired from a long days work and just wanna go home and relax… when the kids have a bunch of stuff to do that takes us away from personal time… when people start to act weird and funny… what then? When we feel like giving up (God knows that happens often), then we should start to look back and reflect and see just what God has done through all the hard times, through the struggles, through the lack of zeal and overwhelming fatigue at times… what has God done?
We’ve been blessed to get lots of support from local government officials at various capacities. We’ve been blessed to help launch the Lynwood Commitment, Mayor’s Clergy Breakfast, FREE youth summer camp, and even Trunk or Treat.
So what happens when the excitement wears off? Ministry happens… that’s what! Folks get discipled…people get baptized…couples prepare for marriage…jobs get lost and new ones found…people lose loved ones and the church is there to comfort them in the Lord…marriages struggle and are loved, encouraged, and held accountable in love…kids mess up, parents get encouraged, and children are raised in the ways of the Lord…victories are shared together, and losses are mourned together…we fight, we argue, and we make up…the Word of God is preached, the Word of God is prayed, the Word of God is sung, and the Word of God is taken at the Lord’s Supper every Sunday…
This is what happens when the excitement wears off, we do ministry…and we prepare to plant another church…this time in Wilmington! God has given us favor and it looks like we’ve already got the building in which we’ll be meeting, God is so good to us…when the excitement wears off, we do life together…we encourage each other and spur each other on towards love and good deeds and not miss corporate worship with the saints (Hebrews 10:24-25)… when the excitement wears off, we weather the storm… we acknowledge that the enemy is super pissed at what we’re doing, and we put on the armor of God like this dude here:
I can remember the day my spiritual father, Rev. Eddy Aleman, General Secretary of the Reformed Church in America commissioned Chris and I as pastors of RCLA, he said, “You’ve got to be a special kind of crazy to be a church planter” and I think that can also be said of our team…I love them and am so grateful for them, to them, and in awe of how immensely God has blessed me with them in mine and my family’s life. Our team is not perfect, but man… they’re some pretty awesome people! Our elders, deacons, ushers, youth leaders, worship team, and set up crew all love Jesus, all acknowledge their need of Jesus, and are a true blessing to me, our church, and the city of Lynwood.
So what happens when the excitement wears off…we roll up our sleeves and do ministry, the hard work expected of any professing follower of Christ!