My discernment process around church planting started five years ago. It’s been a long road, one that has built character and fortitude deep within me. Deep relational bonds with my sending church are one of the fruits of that process.
As they release me to church plant, I want to leave as a daughter of the house, fully loved and supported, honoring the legacy and example of my sending pastors.
As a church planter, there are two processes that I need to attend to simultaneously. One is starting a church; much has been written about this. The other process is that I need to leave my current church, my sending church, in a healthy, positive manner as well. I haven’t been able to find as much guidance around this process.
Here are some of the attitudes and practices I’m developing in order to transition well:
Humility isn’t always fun, but it serves us well. I’ve noticed a tension in myself. Half of me wants to prove what I know, what I’ve learned, and what I’ve read. I want to strike out on my own, forge my own path, and do it my way. The other half of me is aware that I don’t know what I don’t know, and that what I don’t know is vast. There will be time for me to push against boundaries, to create, and to lead. I recognize the need now to press into humility, into submission to my leaders, their wisdom, and their experience.
I’ve committed to planting in a joyful and peaceful manner. Gratitude is a key part of that.
I asked God several months ago if I could plant joyfully and peacefully. He said “Sure. That’s in your control. You choose how you will plant.” Oh man, did that resonate deeply.
I regularly journal my gratitude for my sending church, my pastor and team, my planting community, the discernment process, and the progress that happens. I have noticed that my peace and joy about planting has increased exponentially.
As we are leaving our sending church, it is natural that conflict will arise. Honor in conflict looks like prioritizing the relationship above agreement. Honor isn’t afraid of conflict. In fact, honor is most apparent in conflict. When conflict arises, we have the greatest opportunity to honor the other person. When a conflict is met with honor, the relationship and bond deepen and grow. Trust blooms and spreads.
Our relationships can only be as healthy as we are healthy individually. The Lord took me on a journey over the past 18 months of prioritizing my own health and well-being in order to cultivate healthy relationships. He’s taught me the joy of giving and leading from a full, rested place.
Well-being is a commitment. There are many areas of our lives to pursue wellness in: spiritually, relationally, physically, mentally, emotionally. It all takes time (literal hours blocked off on your calendar) and effort (sometimes grit your teeth kind of effort), but it is always well worth it.
The Wellbeing initiative through Vineyard USA has immensely helped in this area by providing regular coaching, mentoring, and spiritual direction.
I had a sudden realization during worship on a Sunday morning that in order to plant I had to leave. It took me by surprise. I had been so preoccupied with the excitement and anticipation of planting, that I hadn’t given myself any time to grieve the loss.
I wept that morning, realizing that I would not always be in that auditorium on Sunday mornings, worshipping with the people who have become my church family. I’ve committed to grieving well, to feel all of the feelings, to sit with them, and to let my heart experience the loss. It is easy to feel the excitement of church planting, but it takes intentionality to grieve well. Making time to sit with the loss will make the joy of planting sweeter.
It is so easy to become distracted by the bright, shiny, new adventure in front of us, but I believe that we need to do the hard work of committing to leaving our sending churches well. This commitment will build character in us that we will need for the journey ahead and will sow deeply into the culture of our church plants.
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