As we started serving on ministry teams at our local Vineyard church, we learned more about the Vineyard’s values and beliefs; We absolutely loved the mantra that in the Vineyard that “Everyone gets to play”.
Not long after we started getting involved at the church, I got to personally “play” by being invited on staff as an administrative assistant. This was my first exposure to leadership in ministry and it was incredible. After a few months of being on staff, my husband Wes and I were approached about a church plant launching in the Spring of 2013. We were excited at the prospect of helping to open a new church. Without hesitation, we joined the launch team. Wes started out as an intern at the church plant and soon moved into a staff position.
After that, we talked off and on about what it would look like to church plant ourselves. It never really felt like was the right time, but we started the discernment process anyway.
Sometimes we assume that Jesus is going to visit us in the night and whisper that it’s time to plant and then everything will just come together. For us, that’s not what happened. There was an initial call, a tug on our hearts, but everything else was very fluid. The first 6 months were the hardest because we had felt the tug, but now we had to trust that it was Jesus actually calling us. Every day we questioned if this was the right decision and if we could actually do this.
Everything came to a head after we finished the initial church planter assessments. It showed us what we did know, and some of areas that we needed to work on. The most surprising thing for us was that it showed that we were actually pretty well qualified to do this thing. That was a biggie because we’d often thought, “who are we to even think about doing this? The assessments gave us the encouragement that maybe we weren’t so crazy after all. Maybe we could actually do this.
Then our pastor told us about the Residency+ program. The program takes a potential planter through a course of formation, discipleship, and study on topics like evangelism and discipleship models, healthy church growth, and practical ministry skills like developing leaders, preaching, budgeting, and lots more.
We didn’t just have followers but fellow builders.
We had been meeting with a small group of people who were interested in planting with us and we decided that the Residency+ program was just what we needed. We highly encouraged all of our team to do the course with us. Five of the nine people joined us and it brought us much closer together. One of the reasons the program benefited us so much was that we did it together. The team wasn’t waiting for our direction on everything. We didn’t just have followers but fellow builders. We got to walk through the hard questions together, build our mission and vision for the church, and dream together about what it would look like.
I think the biggest advice we have for planters is, don’t do this alone (and your spouse doesn’t count as not being alone). A mistake I see a lot of church planters make is expecting the lead pastor be in charge of every area and having a hand in everything. we have to remember that we’re pastors, not superheros. You can only do so much, and if you’re a planter you may even be bi-vocational. I believe you have two main objectives as the lead pastor:
- You are to share the vision, the mission and set the cultural atmosphere constantly.
- You are to encourage and empower leaders for the equipping of the saints, so the body may be built up like it says Ephesians 4:12. You help everybody get to play!
Planting is a slow work and your call is something you work out for the rest of your life, take it slow. Set the direction and surround yourself with leaders who have been empowered and encouraged to do all that Jesus called us to do.
Wes and Anna Taul planted and lead The Hub Church in Niles MI. They are passionate about transforming their city and are on a mission to bring encouragement, empowerment and unity to everyone they encounter.