Self-care. Me time. Mindfulness.
Principles and practices, certainly in Western culture, that are elevated high above our fast-paced blur right now. And at its core, self-care is obviously good. Clearly the scriptures call us to look after ourselves, to carve out rest, to run our own race. Yet, like many of these principles they can become diluted and then largely hedonistic when the world takes them on. I would argue that self-care is currently wearing worldly (ill-fitting) pants.
So how do we negotiate this space? I think a semantic shift can be aligning for us as disciples.
In recent times I have shifted to thinking of self-care as soul-care. The state of my soul – that is, my being, my essence, the beautiful combination of my emotions and spirit – this is the landscape that requires care, attention and focus.
And yet this process is not cookie-cutter nor scientific. Our soul is at home in art, and art lives in expression, emotion, risk, colour and creativity. Art breathes in paradox and nuance. Art shimmies up beside vulnerability and makes friends with it. Art is messy and beautiful.
So caring for our soul means a willingness to roll up our beige sleeves and get down to a gritty but creative business.
1. Engagement, not escapism.
Shouted from the worldly rooftops is the claim that self-care requires a moving away, an escaping to an island, a café, a bathtub, a cave of Netflix, a vortex of social media. That, to truly regroup, we must escape.
The art of soul-care, however, modelled time and again with our Jesus and superbly encapsulated by David in Psalms 23, is a that our soul is best cared for, nurtured and restored when we are engaged with the Good Shepherd.
2. Slow, sacred Sabbath.
I have been on a glorious journey of redefining the Sabbath in my life. Father God models this to us in Genesis 1-2. After six days of strategic, deliberate, purposeful, masterful creation he takes a day off – surely he wasn’t tired, right? And yet he took a definable time to exhale, to delight in his creation, to not work.
What is especially profound about this is the Sabbath here is described as holy (Genesis 2:3) – the only aspect of creative activity that is. Carving out a weekly designated space is essential for the care of our soul – a day where we are slower; a day where we feast and play and dream and rest and delight. To Sabbath is a truly sacred, and in fact holy, practise.
3. Regular rhythms.
The life of discipleship was never a call to balance, but a call to rhythm. The Message version of Matthew 11:28 remains one of my soul-care favourites – here Jesus says “walk with me, work with me, learn how I do it; learn the unforced rhythms of grace”.
Grace has a rhythm; discipleship has a rhythm; soul-care has a rhythm. That is, it ebbs and flows; it has valleys and peaks; light and shade, fullness and quietness; grace and grit. Jesus lived in rhythms and modelled these to his disciples, and then calls us to the same story.
4. Energy tanks.
Our time is static, but our energy isn’t. We can create and replenish our energy tanks by being deliberate and experimental in terms of understanding what fills and depletes our four internal reservoirs – mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. We may even find one activity that replenishes all four tanks simultaneously and this is like a targeted soul downpour from a heavenly rain cloud.
Like most of the human experience, soul care requires a good dose of art and dust and beauty, yet a great measure of strategy and form and structure.
Let’s continue to spend our days watching and learning from the master Jesus at work (and rest) guided by the soul-filling, soul-anchoring, soul-aligning Holy Spirit.
I hope you have heard the message, ‘Return of the Shepherd,’ by the articulate Leanne Matthesius. The title has a Tolkien resonance to it, does it not?
Leanne has superb insight into, amongst other things, the value and glory of the task of caring for God’s flock, which, if we want to get Pauline about it, is largely what we are asked to do. “Pay careful attention … to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” Acts 20:28. The precious possession of the Lord’s church demands the care of attentive shepherds.
This got me thinking about the role of a shepherd and how vastly different it is from the other ascension gifts enumerated in Ephesians 4. We aren’t completely sure if Paul was referring to four or five roles/gifts. It would seem to be four as the pastor is also, necessarily, the feeder – the teacher. It is difficult to be or do one without the other.
But it wasn’t this that piqued my attention.
I spoke at an Evangelists gathering – yes, you heard right – and addressed the topic of the pastor and the evangelist, how they relate and how they can co-operate. As an aside to the conversation it struck me that, apart from the pastor, the ascension gifts by and large (and remember when reading this, you have to exaggerate differences sometimes to see the difference) are reasonably straight forward, almost black and white.
The apostle is a ground breaker, requiring resilience and focus. They normally don’t deal with the tangle of lives.
The prophet is a proclaimer, a revealer, and they are often black and white – in the sense that a picture, a word, is relatively clear and always a simplification.
The evangelist is a bringer of good news. The cross, forgiveness, faith are straightforward enough. Of all these the evangelist is probably the most black and white – they need to be.
The teacher speaks of truth, application to lifestyle, and is often systematic in presentation.
But the pastor, ohh yes the pastor, deals with the inconvenience of nuance, the complication of lives, the tangle of relationships, of humanity – messy, complex and sheep like. To pastor you have to reconcile yourself to nuance. Things are always less straight forward in the sheep pen.
I suggest pastoring may be the most difficult, the most awkward of the ministries, because nothing is so complex as people.
The other equally important gifts can avoid the tangle a little more easily, especially if they travel.
For the pastor the nuance of situations, that never seem to quite conform to biblical verities, has to be constantly navigated. Almost every situation requires a different approach. The sermon on Sunday has to be massaged into mess, bad decisions and self-orientation.
If you are a pastor, you necessarily will have to trade in nuance. If you can’t you are in the wrong job.
Go the pastors – you are the real heroes.
Balance… that silly little word we throw around in ministry and in life, yet we never really achieve it. Don’t get me wrong, I know that “all things are possible with God,” yet I don’t know if He ever asks us to live a “balanced” life? Thou shalt live a balanced life (insert sarcastic religious voice), is not the 11th commandment. Jesus came to give us life and life abundantly and He wants us to prosper in all things, in every area of our lives!
Balance by sheer definition would make us believe we need to give equal parts of ourselves to every part of our lives in order to be steady and successful. Yet I’m not convinced every part of our lives needs to have an even distribution of our time and energy in order to be full of life, to be prospering, and to be healthy.
I think we need to throw the notion of “balance” out the window, as well as the guilt that comes along with it!
I believe the right question is, is my marriage healthy? Is my family healthy? Is my ministry healthy? Because healthy things grow, healthy things flourish, healthy things prosper and that is what our Heavenly Father wants for us. And, if one of those areas is not flourishing, then could it be that we have neglected an area that needs to be nurtured?
In life, in ministry, in marriage and family, there will be constant ebbs and flows. In one season, ministry may be demanding the majority of your time, and that’s ok! And in another season, your children may require the majority of your time, and that’s ok too!
However, I think we need to be able to recognize when one area of our life has taken priority over the others and then intentionally create a season where the neglected areas can be nurtured again.
I know my husband Jon and I have had to be very intentional when it comes to the health of our marriage, our family and our ministry. Knowing the ins and outs of our ministry lives, our family nights and family vacations are absolutely non-negotiable. So are vacations for just Jon and I (because we all know family trips are amazing, but not necessarily a “vacation”… and all the parents said amen!)
Jon and I look at our calendar every year and anticipate busy seasons in ministry, and we purposefully plan our getaways or days off after those busy seasons so that we can reconnect, refresh, and nurture our relationships with our children and with each other. This has created such strength and health in our marriage and with our kids, not to mention amazing memories! And a beautiful bi-product is that we are happier, healthier leaders and pastors to those who God has entrusted to us!
I believe it’s so important as leaders and pastors to model what hard work and commitment looks like, but equally as important to model what it looks like to rest, to be refreshed, and to keep a sabbath.
Because, people who aren’t rested tend to make silly decisions, and people who only rest don’t accomplish anything. So let’s be smart. Let’s be healthy. Let’s give it our all whether we are resting or working. And, let’s remember to continually re-evaluate our season of life and nurture those things which may have been neglected, back into a place of strength and health. Amen!
Bushfires have ravaged Australia in the last few months, with 86 still burning in New South Wales alone. A staggering 18.6 million hectares of land have been left barren and charred, approximately 2,176 homes have been reduced to rubble, and 21 lives have been lost. Those not directly affected by the fires have suffered significant air pollution and power outages.
However, amidst such heartache, we’re seeing communities rally together as they rebuild.
Young & old are gathering together in towns, ports and cities to provide practical and emotional support, and we’re truly honoured to be a part of it. As widespread rain falls (thank you Jesus), C3 churches across the country are matching prayer with love in action.
C3 Church Camden
C3 Church Camden (just south-west of Sydney) have been able to offer ongoing support to families throughout December and January.
“Through communication with other local agencies, we are constantly looking to assess the needs and fill gaps wherever we can.” Ps Rohan Bell, C3 Church Camden
Donations so far have included:
- Food hampers
- Supermarket and fuel vouchers
- Bedding and linen
- Meals for the NSW RFS volunteers
- Purchase of full-face respiratory masks for RFS volunteers (many are only supplied with paper masks)
- School supplies for affected families
Funnelled through C3 Church Camden, efforts by C3 Australia have raised approximately $65,000, plus donated goods like food, bedding, clothing etc.
And the funds are still flooding in. Elevation Church (in North Carolina) in particular have reached out and offered a generous donation. We are so grateful for their support, and others like them, from across oceans.
For more information or to donate, head to https://chuffed.org/project/c3-fire-relief.
C3 New Hope
C3 New Hope is also playing a part in relief efforts. Across their 8 locations – Kiama, Mount Annan, Campbelltown, Blue Mountains, Oran Park, Wilton and Townsville – they held an offering to raise funds for families on the far South Coast of NSW.
“Specifically we aimed to help those with school-aged children (and even local schools) to ease the burden of back to school shopping.” Bec Choat, C3 New Hope Kiama
With 2,176 homes lost since the beginning of the bushfire crisis in 2019, and school beginning by the end of January, back-to-school shopping will be a struggle for many bushfire-affected families.
Partnering with locals, and another church in Kiama (Generocity Church), C3 New Hope volunteers have so far compiled 25 backpacks filled with school supplies, to the value of over $2000.
C3 Jervis Bay
A small group of volunteers from from C3 Jervis Bay on New South Wales’s South Coast have been working tirelessly since January 2nd to clear away rubble and remains from burned properties. The volunteers, including Pastor Steve Ahern, have been using their own machinery – mostly bobcats and tractors – and their own fuel to support the clean-up.
“We’re just getting in there and getting it done.” Ps Steve Ahern, C3 Jervis Bay
This less glamorous side of the recovery efforts is often overlooked, but can be extremely costly to residents.
C3 Church Camden & Picton have offered to contribute some of the raised funds towards petrol and machinery costs.
Do you have a story to share?
There are countless other stories of people stepping in and providing relief for Aussies all over the country. If you have a story to share, contact us at email@example.com.
There aren’t an incredibly long list of kings ruling today, and if they are a king (or queen), they are mainly figureheads with constitutional power, but not absolute power. Belgium, Kuwait, Spain, Thailand, Tonga, are just a few nations with modern-day kings. The only three I could find with absolute power rule in Saudi Arabia, Swaziland and Oman.
Kings in the older systems (and today as well) were there to take care of the people. They were there to make sure that there was a system in place that could provide for and protect their people in good times and bad. Bad times were often times of famine and war, and those kinds of bad times could topple a king, as he was seen as ineffective.
There were definitely good kings throughout history – kings who had absolute power and made life better for their people:
- Suleiman I of the Ottoman Empire.
- James I of England.
- John III of Poland-Lithuania.
- Meiji of Japan.
- Gustav II Adolf of Sweden.
- Augustus of Rome.
- Cyrus II of Persia.
- Frederick II of Prussia.
But if you’re like me, it can seem like so many kings had a bad rep.
If you look at the Old Testament there were 33 kings who did evil in the sight of the Lord, and only 5 good kings. That should tell us something:
Absolute power has the power to corrupt absolutely.
David is considered the best king Israel ever had, a man after God’s own heart. But he was an incredibly flawed person, and even he did something profoundly corrupt by essentially having Bathsheba’s first husband, Uriah, murdered.
So, let’s take a look at several of Israel’s kings.
God’s People Request A King
It is believed that the Israelites came out of Egypt in the 13th century BCE. The Israelite’s were unique compared with other peoples at the time. They followed God as their leader, not a king. But after living for several centuries with judges and priests to rule over them, they wanted a king.
But this was not what God wanted for them. God had led the people through Moses and Aaron, and then through priests and judges raised up to govern the people.
Their request for a king was a rejection of God’s way of leadership over them.
The priest Samuel was a leading light for them, and they trusted him. But they didn’t have a lot of love for his children who they said did not follow his ways. In Samuel’s time, the people began to worry about who the next leader would be.
The Israelites wanted a king in order to be like all the other nations, but God had created Israel as a unique people. He was their leader.
When the Israelites wanted a king like other nations had, they were rejecting their unique, set-apart position as God’s people.
Israel, whose God was to be the only God, was envious of the nations who followed false gods. But they insisted. So, they chose Saul.
Saul’s Strong Start
Saul was born circa 1076 BCE in the land of Benjamin in Israel. He became the first King of Israel circa 1046 BCE where he united tribes and defeated enemies such as the Ammonites, Philistines, Moabites, and Amalekites.
While some people didn’t love the choice at first, he won a decisive battle against the Ammonites as one of his first kingly moves, and his first act was to forbid retribution against those who had previously contested his kingship. A very kingly move indeed.
Fast forward to the battle with the Philistines and Goliath, the giant. The mighty king is confounded by his enemy until a young shepherd boy comes along, using his wit – and God’s great plan – to bring down a giant and set himself up to be king of the land.
David. Of all the kings of Israel, David is the one after God’s own heart. What does that mean? Let’s look at the Psalms*:
- Humble – Lowborn men are but a breath, the highborn are but a lie; if weighed on a balance, they are nothing; together they are only a breath. Psalm 62:9
- Reverent – I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies. Psalm 18:3
- Respectful – Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief. Psalm 31:9
- Trusting – The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1
- Loving – I love you, O Lord, my strength. Psalm 18:1
- Devoted – You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. Psalm 4:7
- Recognition – I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. Psalm 9:1
- Faithful – Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23:6
- Obedient – Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Psalm 119:34
- Repentant – For the sake of your name, O Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great. Psalm 25:11
*Ten Reasons David is Called “A Man After God’s Own Heart” – Ron Edmondson
He was repentant, but he was flawed. His rein ended in a mess, with his own son coming against him.
The Rise And Fall Of Solomon
Solomon, the son of David’s infidelity, asked for wisdom. Although he received it (Proverbs is an exceptional book), he ended up bringing the whole country into idolatry through his many foreign wives.
Even the best king in the Bible wasn’t a truly good king. He wanted to be one, but you could say: “He was only human.”
The Messiah: The Promised Deliverer
No, we had to wait one thousand years until a small boy was born in a humble stable, in very unusual circumstances, in the backwater of the Roman empire – Judea.
This man would become king. But not in the way one might expect. And that was unfortunate for those who had been waiting. Because, sadly, some of them missed it. Missed Him.
All through its long, troubled history, the people of Israel, stubborn as they were, had been waiting for someone to come and save them. You got to give them credit, they toughed it out, year-on-year. Waiting and believing. Hanging together, holding to their beliefs and traditions while mightier kingdoms fell around them into dust and forgetfulness. A sturdy people, believing that the God of the universe would save them one day. He would come and rescue them from all the meanness of life, the cruelty and savagery.
And then along comes Jesus, the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega, the one who holds all the universe together… and he blows all their stereotypes to bits.
He eats with sinners, he breaks the sabbath, he chats with the ladies, he washes his friend’s feet. He was the opposite of a religious person. He wasn’t doing it to thumb his nose at religion or authority – he came with all authority. He was showing us a better way. The way of love.
If most earthly kings lead from a place of brokenness, allowing their fears and insecurities to drive them, Jesus leads from a place of supreme authority and love. He came to save, not to destroy.
He came to SERVE and his currency – his power – is love.
This is the true good king. And this is the One we serve, the One in whom we have placed all our hope. God always wanted to be our King, and in Jesus his Kingship was re-established.
What king do you want?
So, in light of the frailty of men and women – which one of us can say we are above the sin that lies at the heart of man? Sure, most of us are pretty nice people, but we are all given to sin.
So what king do you want? A king that might be able to provide a good quality of life? Or, a king that can save your life – forever. One, that if you choose Him as king of your life will never leave you or forsake you. A king that came to serve, not lord it over you and crush you.
This is the King I serve, and this is the King I want. Jesus is King of my life. And I would submit that He is the best King we could ever hope for.
Colossians 1: 15-22 says:
“He is the divine portrait, the true likeness of the invisible God, and the firstborn heir of all creation. For in him was created the universe of things, both in the heavenly realm and on the earth, all that is seen and all that s unseen. Every seat of power, realm of government, principality, and authority—it all exists through him and for his purpose! He existed before anything was made, and now everything finds completion in him. He is the Head of his body, which is the church. And since he is the beginning and the firstborn heir in resurrection, he is the most exalted One, holding first place in everything. For God is satisfied to have all his fullness dwelling in Christ. And by the blood of his cross, everything in heaven and earth is brought back to himself—back to its original intent, restored to innocence again! Even though you were once distant from him, living in the shadows of your evil thoughts and actions, he reconnected you back to himself. He released his supernatural peace to you through the sacrifice of his own body as the sin-payment on your behalf so that you would dwell in his presence. And now there is nothing between you and Father God, for he sees you as holy, flawless, and restored.”
I love my kids, and of all the things that my wife Katie and I hope for them, I want them to know Jesus personally and to live out the Bible in their daily lives. However, I know the uncertainty or even insecurities that can rise up when we think about discipling our kids.
A few years ago I released a book called Following Jesus. So far, it has been translated into a few languages and used in churches to disciple adults and teenagers, but now I’m in the process of writing the kids version and I’m getting so excited about the potential impact. So, I wanted to talk out some of these concepts as I go.
Often our biggest fear in discipleship is not having all the answers. But at first, discipling your child is more about living it than saying it. You learn how to bring your relationship with Jesus into every part of your lives.
Look how Moses describes this process in Deuteronomy.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Yes, there are some specific ways that we can be intentional with teaching our children God’s word, but initially we can focus more on bringing Jesus into our daily lives like we see in the verses above.
Showing and teaching our children about Jesus is more natural than you realize. You don’t have to have all the answers to your kids’ wild questions! Primarily focus on sharing with them what you do know and why you follow Jesus.
Here are 7 Key Biblical Principles To Teach Your Kids:
1. Their Father in Heaven perfectly created them, loves them and wants to talk with them!
- Genesis 1 – The Creation Story.
- Psalm 139:13-18 – God’s hand created each of us.
2. God gave us to free will to choose to follow him, or go our own way and sin.
- That sin caused us to be separated from God.
- Romans 6:23 – The cost of sin was death.
- The price for our sin had to be paid to rescue us back from the enemy.
- 1 Peter 1:18-21 – We are redeemed by the perfect Lamb (Jesus).
3. Jesus came to earth to bring us close to God again through his death on the cross and resurrection from the dead.
- John 3:16 – God loved us so much that he sent Jesus to rescue us.
- Ephesians 2:12-14 – We were brought close to God by the blood of Jesus.
4. Jesus sent us His Holy Spirit to empower all those who Follow Jesus!
- Acts 1:4,5,8 – Jesus sent us His Holy Spirit.
5. God also gave us the Bible, which is the Word of God. The Bible teaches, corrects us and guides us.
- Psalm 119:105 – The Bible guides our lives.
6. God has a good purpose and plan for us while we’re on earth.
- Matthew 6:33 – Seek God’s purpose first.
- Much of our purpose is found as we connect with the community of other believers called ‘The Church.’ Jesus has given the church the mission to tell the whole world about Jesus.
- Matthew 28:19-20 – Go and make disciples!
7. After this life, those who follow Jesus will spend eternity in heaven with God.
- John 14:1-6 – Jesus is in heaven preparing a place for us.
Think about these key themes in the Bible, what they mean to you, and then begin to bring them up and remind your kids of these truths. These key themes and many more will help your child build an unshakable foundation to build their life on!
South Asia is a vibrant and emerging region in the world, encompassing the nations of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The people are warm and diverse, the cities never sleep, and urbanisation and development are rapid.
Although industry and commerce are strong, and infrastructure projects abounding, poverty is common. The average income in India is US$250 per month, but it is even less for pastors.
C3 has churches in five of the seven nations: Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Almost all of our churches have planted at least one other church, some up to seventy.
The Christian Worldview is uncommon, yet church planting and evangelism thrive here. People are coming to Christ in significant numbers every week, even though all seven South Asian nations are on the World Watch List for Persecuted Christians.
The boldness and courage of the churches is testament to their commitment to Christ. In the midst of growing persecution, there is faith and increase.
Rented buildings are common, but building projects are beginning throughout the region. C3 Siliguri’s church building is almost complete, and C3 Amravati have recently begun a school.
Established in 1994, C3 Pune celebrated their 25th anniversary this year, with over 700 people in attendance. In their 25 years, they have planted over 70 churches, and they continue to train countless church planters in the Bible, ministry and leadership skills.
Sanitation & Medical Assistance
Civil authorities have reached out to our churches to request assistance with sanitation and medical teams. Not only is this another way for our pastors to assist in the development of communities, but it’s a chance to partner with local government – a rare and crucial opportunity in South Asia.
We hold pastoral training events in South Asia twice a year. Training is always skills-oriented, designed for practical application in churches, to provide momentum and growth. This year, our training events were held in India and in Nepal, in the local languages to provide greater access to pastors. For senior pastors and their spouses, an annual summit is held to provide targeted support and skills for senior ministry. We find that these are pivotal moments in our calendar year.
Our South Asian churches are strong and vibrant, focused on evangelism and church planting, and situated in a part of the world with incredible potential – South Asia holds 25% of the world’s population – 50% of them under 25 years of age.
The future is bright, but your prayer support is crucial to the spread of the Gospel in South Asia.
If you have questions or are able to support the mission, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our church plant is now in its 8th year. Debbie and I stepped out to plant C3 Subang (now known as Destiny C3) in 2011 with a team of 9 others. The church has since developed into a group of 7 churches catering to the different communities in Malaysia, India and the Philippines. We also run a UNHCR recognized refugee school which to-date is committed to the education of approximately 80 refugee children from nations that include, Pakistan, Syria, Bangladesh and India.
The church planting journey for us began with a lot of apprehension. Was this the right step? Do we have what it takes? Who are we called to? What if we failed? Is this really what God wants for us? We had, as most church planters would, lots of questions… questions that we wrestled with even as we were being drawn by the call.
The questions you ask yourself as you go on this journey can be life altering. The wrong type of questions can derail your journey, while the right questions can clear a path for you.
There are many questions that we asked ourselves on our church plant journey and below are 3 important ones that every potential church planter should ask themselves.
Am I called to this?
Church planting is not just a nice idea or a noble choice of profession. It is a call. Be certain of your calling, because it will form the foundation of your church plant journey. It will be the fuel in your tank that will keep you going regardless of the challenges that come your way. Many people in ministry quit during tough times because they start to doubt their call. We can start to believe that the presence of a roadblock indicates the absence of a call, “maybe I’m not called to this”, “maybe I was wrong”, and before you know it, we are daydreaming about exit strategies.
As Debbie and I began this journey, we had to be certain that we were called to this, and our certainty of the call is what drove us to push through some of the most challenging circumstances that would have otherwise derailed our journey.
When you view your challenges through the certainty of your calling, you see roadblocks not as something to stop you, but something that you are meant to push through.
You view the challenges as necessary inconveniences that you are called to work through that will serve to bring you closer to your destiny. We stay the path not because it is easy, we stay the path because we are certain that we are called by God to be here.
Whose church is this anyway?
Many times, we can, either consciously or unconsciously, view the church plant as our project and God as the external consultant that we reach out to – to endorse our ideas, approve our decisions or help us through the difficult stages of the building. This mind-set often sees us carrying burdens that we were never meant to carry, trying to build by our own strength, which brings us unnecessary stress.
Whose idea was this in the first place? This is God’s idea, His project, His Church and He chose you to be a part of it. This church was birthed in God’s heart long before you even knew what a church plant was. Wasn’t it Him who said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it”? Don’t the scriptures say that unless the Lord builds the house we labour in vain?
This is a fundamental truth of church planting, yet it is a truth that we many times lose sight of. We get caught up with the “business” of church planting. We tend to push God into a consulting role rather that seeing him as the chief architect and master builder.
He invited you to be a part of HIS church plant, and whenever we forget that, we end up dealing with frustrations and anxieties that can lead to burn out.
Whenever I find myself stressing more than usual, it’s always because I’ve taken the burden off God and started carrying it myself. I’ve made it about me, my success, my project, my church, and that was never God’s intention. I ask myself, whose church is this in the first place?
Remind yourself often, that this is God’s project, His church plant, and He is the master-builder. Cast all your burdens upon Him.
What’s unique about my calling?
Since everyone is unique, there will be a uniqueness about your calling. You may start off looking like another church, but there will be a look, a feel that is uniquely yours. Each of us are given different “talents”. God delights in the multiplication of the talents but the means through which that multiplication comes may differ from church to church, community to community, nation to nation. What’s unique about the community that God put you amongst? Unity may not necessarily equate to uniformity.
One of the great dangers of church planting surfaces when we are focused on trying to duplicate the calling of another.
Yes there is much that we can learn from others, there may be strategies and ideas that we can get and apply from other churches, but we must be faithful to the uniqueness of our calling, that’s where we will find our greatest breakthroughs.
In the midst of our church planting zeal and eagerness to learn from and emulate the successful ministries of others, we had to stop to notice what God was doing in our midst, the kind of people that He was sending our way, the doors that He was opening, especially the unexpected ones. Sometimes we can look for what we want God to do and miss out on what God is doing.
When we stopped to ask ourselves what was unique about what God was doing in our ministry, we started to see doors open for ministry that we never had considered before.
So there they are: three questions for the church planter. There are many more, but these are at the top of my list and I trust will be in yours as well.
You might know them as MAMILs (Middle-Aged Men In Lyrca) but there are many Australian families who call them everyday heroes.
Formed in 2010 at C3 Oxford Falls, the home church of Ps Phil & Chris Pringle, the C3 Cyclists are passionate about making a difference in the lives of sick kids through the Humpty Dumpty Foundation. Their annual fundraising ride through rural Australia is always a test of strength and endurance under soaring outback temperatures, and this year was no different.
Their 2019 Country To Coast Tour took the cyclists from Tamworth to Newcastle over 5 days – a gruelling 740km journey which ended at John Hunter Children’s Hospital on October 20th.
Thanks to the generous donations of hundreds of supporters, the cyclists were able to raise $47,809, which has enabled the Humpty Dumpty Foundation to donate life-saving equipment to paediatric, neonatal and maternity wards in need.