Relent and Respond: Preparing to Plant in Vancouver

Church planters are not known for sitting still. We think of ourselves as entrepreneurs, eager to pound the pavement, share the gospel with our neighbors, and begin growing a new church. And yet after over a year of preparation, from assessment to training to commissioning services, Julia and I now find ourselves in another season of waiting—apprenticeship before launching our own plant.

I had a great meeting a few weeks ago with one of the directors of our church planting network, Chris Douglas. He gently reminded me to embrace the apprenticeship process. I am ambitious. I want to get started and get a church planted, but that's not the point of apprenticeship. The point is to help another church plant, to learn and marinate in the culture of the city. It's also a rare period in my life during which I actually have the time to have fun and explore. Chris assured me that this is a conversation he has to have with every apprentice at some point. I needed it. I felt a huge weight come off my shoulders. I felt the Spirit tell me to "repent of your expectations." It was very freeing, and has actually given me more life and energy to serve at our church during this period of time.

Not long afterward, I received some constructive feedback about my preaching that initially I wanted to refuse. But it was true. It exposed that I am prideful about my preaching and that I have to repent of how much I let preaching define who I am. It was another humbling day for me.

As if this wasn't enough, I read some material for our next church planter cadre, a monthly meeting of new church planters like myself. It convicted me of being a contrarian with other church planters who have different theological stances than I. Pride exposed yet again. It stung. Yet the Holy Spirit revealed God's love for me once again. God loves me by showing me that I need to repent. He loves me by forgiving me when I do repent. And he lets me experience his love when I confess these sins to my community and receive truth and grace in return. I am in a season of relenting to God and responding to him. It's strange to realize that I don't need accountability to be a hard worker. I need accountability to enjoy life. I continually have to remind myself that Julia and I did not arrive in Vancouver by forcing doors open, but by waiting upon God for his timing. Now that we're in Vancouver, why would the process of planting a church be any different?

I am praying that God would birth true humility in my heart and remove the stubborn root of pride that runs deep within my soul. I so desperately want to be more like Jesus: more compassionate, humble, self-giving and loving. I'm not. I need to be transformed for the sake of his glory. I have to embrace entering the kingdom crippled, humbled and contrite. Most of all, I need to thank God for his great compassion, mercy and love shown to us in Jesus.