I remember driving over the hill in the town we had just moved to and saying to my wife, “We need to plant a church in this town.” I don’t know exactly how that thought came to dominate my mind when we were in the midst of moving but it did. Church Planting was in my heart long before I was ready (if a person is ever actually ready) and even before I was serving in church ministry.
Yet, we didn’t plant a church…not then and not there. We served in lay-ministry in a local church for several years. Several times, I voiced the same thoughts to my family and close friends but I didn’t yet feel ‘released’ to do that work. Maybe it was because it is daunting. Maybe it was because of the statistics on Church Planting failures. Maybe it was because The Holy Spirit whispered that His perfect timing was still to come.
Timing is a critical component to any work we undertake for God. When we jump into God’s Work in our timing we can find failure. The stories of The Israelites going into war prematurely comes to mind. If our timing is wrong then we may be running ahead of God and His power. If we plant a church without His Power then we haven’t really planted a church. Remember the scene as Jesus spoke to His followers before His ascension:
(Acts 1:4-8 ESV) And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Our burdens to serve The Lord can run ahead of our preparation and even our enthusiasm. A preacher’s sermon often begins with a burden. Out of that burden comes preparation and as preparation happens, enthusiasm grows. It is the same for a person called to ministry and/or called to Church Planting.
Years later, we moved to a new city to serve a rural church as its 50th pastor. I still wanted to plant a church but God’s timing was still yet to come. We served The Lord and continued to pray. The burden for Church Planting never left. The preparation for Church Planting never stopped. The enthusiasm for Church Planting continued to grow.
After what seemed like ages, we sensed God telling us that the time had come. With that timing, we sensed God showing us where to plant - Casper, Wyoming. 1,000 miles away. A town that was over 90% un-churched, de-churched or lost. Our burden now had a place to rest and we had a place to serve. Our burden would now be coupled with the power of God as we moved to our new mission field.
Do you sense a burden from God to engage a particular work? If it is from Him he will equip you to do the work in His timing. A call to any type of ministry is also a call to preparation for that ministry. It may be quick or it may be slow but in God’s timing it will be ‘just right’. Our journey of Church Planting began in June of 2013 when we first made a phone call to Wyoming…but really it began when we crested that hill years before.