Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Year in Review: Life-Change Story #7

Earlier this year, our elder board began praying about taking a radical step of faith as a young church: to plant our first church in 2009. I posted my thoughts on this blog earlier this summer about why we felt planting before we built was important, but I didn't really go into detail about how God had led us to make the decision. During our elder meetings this spring, we began to discuss our priorities as a church. We were growing numerically and financially and felt the responsibility to steward God's resources wisely. We began to pray and wrestle with the responsibility we had to manage God's people and money well.

There are many obstacles to planting a church in your first two years. In our cycle, we needed to find a planter this summer (before our one-year anniversary) so he could start the residency in September, build his team this fall, get involved in strategic evangelism this spring, and launch by next September. This means a plant needs about a one-year runway. This meant we had to make the decision about planting six months into the life of our church, which felt very fast. We were just getting our feet under us when we felt like we had to decide our first major step as a congregation.

More background - we typically get two questions from visitors when they come see us for the first time. One has to do with the age of the pastor. The second has to do with how long we plan on being in the YMCA. The first question is easy to answer - the second is not. We have told people repeatedly that we don't have a time-line in mind for a building campaign, but as we began talking about planting, we realized that our decision on a future facility was connected to our decision to plant. We couldn't do both in our second year, so which was more important to us?

As you know, we went the direction of planting first, hoping to set the precedent for our church family that reproducing spiritually dynamic churches was more important that brick and mortar. Of course, at some point in the future, a building will become necessary, but we wanted to make sure that building never got in the way of church-planting.

So, we decided to plant, met some of the potential planters, and picked Josh and Amber Cagle to be our first planters. They packed up and moved here from southern California in August, put their kids in school, and have now started the residency. They have stepped out in faith to lead a new church just as we have stepped out in faith to plant our first church. They leased out their home in California in one day, and God's hand has been on them as they have made the transition to Texas.

I can't wait to see how this story ends...


Elizabeth said...

We'll add Josh and Amber to our prayer list at FUMC!
Love, Mom

Brent said...

Just thinking outside the box: Many churches today are eschewing building campaigns and staying in "temporary" facilities permanently...and using that money for good works (via missions or personnel for church plants or service opportunities).

I have no idea how that would sound to a visitor, though. My guess is some would think it's cool and some wouldn't like it. But, I like the thinking behind the rationale.