SOS Christine Hoover
Christine Hoover is the church planting wife of Kyle from Charlottesville Community Church, and a mom who writes from the trenches, seeking to provide ministry wives support, encouragement and practical help.
We finished our first year of church planting under a tent in a muddy pit with 31 water-logged people. When we got home that afternoon, Kyle said, “It feels like we’re starting over.” We had been asked to leave our meeting place the previous Friday, we didn’t have a new one lined up (hence the tent), we barely had a core group, and we were physically exhausted and emotionally beaten down.
We—the fearless leaders—were full of fear and doubt.
Privately, I questioned God and His ways. Lord, we put in the hard work during that difficult first year. Where is the explosive growth? I wanted to coast into the second year after the sprint of the first. I was too tired and unprepared to run the distance marathon that church planting requires.
I see now what was happening. God was allowing the difficulty of church planting to bring deep-seated personal and marital issues to the surface. Things like:
Exhaustion: Despite its discouragements and difficulties, the first year of church planting was the honeymoon period. Energy was high, adrenaline was pumping, and the sprint was on. When we reached the second year, I realized that we had only just begun, that as we grew we would face new and different challenges. I was tempted to dwell in the already done rather than the still to come. I hadn’t paced myself, which led to burnout.
Lack of Structure: We hadn’t purposefully set a familial and marital structure that could withstand years of church planting. All that we had established in our “previous life”—date nights, clear boundaries between ministry and family, family days—immediately flew out the window when we started church planting. The boundaries between family, marriage, even personal life and church planting are muddy. By the second year, the lack of boundaries was greatly affecting us.
Pride: One form of pride says, “We did this” and calls attention to itself, desiring recognition and appreciation. Another form says, “I am responsible for the people in our church and for any future growth. It all depends on me.” Yet another says, “I’ve worked really hard so now I’m going to coast.” I struggled with all three.
Ungratefulness: In my exhaustion lurked a dangerous ungratefulness. I saw the holes, the needs, the gaps, the failures, the weaknesses. I saw how God had not come through for us how we wanted or the person who left the church. I failed to remember what had happened: the answered prayers, the movement of the Spirit, the opened doors in the community, the supernatural financial support, the fruitful connections. In my ungratefulness, I was overcome with discouragement and a nagging thought of throwing in the towel and walking away from the whole thing.
By the end of the first year, these issues were clearly evident and extremely dangerous to my marriage, my family, and to my heart. God was sifting me, refining me, cleaning me out, teaching me dependence rather than self-reliance. I found myself with a decision. I could continue my attempts at controlling and relying on my self or I could submit myself in dependence on Him.
I don’t care who you are or what kind of church planting work you’re doing or what is going on with your church, you will face the decision daily: faith or fear? Dependence or Independence? In fact, those are questions for all believers seeking to live a life of faith, church planting or not. Everything hangs in the balance and things feel a little wobbly all the time.
But that is where we meet Christ. He’s not in our independence and control and plan B’s. In all the uncertainty and instability, we don’t have to despair for He holds all things together, even when a brick falls:
For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:16-17)
I choose faith.
Continue the sifted conversation at Exponential 2012.