Church Planting in a Small Town

A new focus

It's been over two years this month since my last post. I've been busy and focused on many other things. But I miss it. I miss writing. It is so time consuming but also so rewarding. It helps focus my thoughts, reflect on what's going on in my life, and as I've been told by a few... some people enjoy reading my articles! But the other reason I feel I drifted away from writing is one of reasons people also drift away from reading. My blog didn't have a particular purpose or focus other than simply writing what was on my mind at the time. Starting today I've decided to change that. For reasons that will become clearer shortly (hopefully), going forward I have decided to focus my writing on a specific topic. Small town church planting. I plan on it being more informative than instructive. And I hope that it can serve in some small capacity to bring encouragement and insight to other church planters and pastors out there who are laboring through the arduous process of church planting, as well as having a simple place to document the journey. I also look forward to mutual encouragement and insight from those that stumble on my articles. So if you haven't guessed by now, here's the reason for my new focus...   

Starting Something From Nothing

On December 6th, 2015, we held our first church service in Douglas, Arizona. Douglas Church began... in our living room! It felt a little awkward preaching in my house to people sitting on my couch. It wasn't totally foreign, as I'd been used to leading Bible studies in my home for years prior. However, this was no longer a Bible study. This was the gathering of the saints for corporate worship before her King. I've long held a high regard for the Church... and having such a simple service in such a small way was one of the challenges I initially faced. Is this God-honoring? Is he pleased with what we're doing? It was nerve-wracking enough to be preaching/teaching the Word (James 3:1). Beginning and leading a new church caused me to get on my knees often. As nervous as I was before the Lord, I was confident it was where he had led me.

Initial Growth (not really)

It has been just over a year and a half since we began. This is the point where I'd love to share that we've experienced awesome growth and have tons of powerful testimonies to share about what the Lord is doing in Douglas... but I can't. Not only have we not grown, we've shrunk! We started off with three families and were excited to see where things would go. In the beginning I warned our church that Satan hates new churches and to be prepared to go to battle. New churches are among the most effective ways to reach a community with the Gospel. Satan hates Jesus and him receiving glory. And boy did he show up as expected... only months in, temptation to sin began coming in all forms. I saw it. My wife saw it. But it wasn't me or my marriage or even our family that was the initial target... You see, Satan hunts for the weak and vulnerable (1 Peter 5:8) and that's exactly what he did with our church. 

I faced the first, and very critical, challenge to one of my firm positions. Church discipline. At such a critical time of establishing a core group in a new church. Why Lord!? But I stayed the course. After a few months, we shrunk. Was I discouraged? Yes. Was I dissuaded? No. From the beginning there was a core set of doctrinal positions I was unwilling to compromise on. Dealing with unrepentant sin was among those. 

Going forward

One of the big struggles with small town church planting is that there isn't much of a support network to be a part of. Whether a denomination or a church planting network, small towns don't usually have much to choose from. Nor, tragically, do small towns typically have thriving healthy churches to work with. Moving from major cities like those found in the Chicago suburbs down to a small border town was quite eye opening when we first came down here. But I wouldn't change a thing. Small town ministry has become a passion of mine and Douglas has become a cozy little home for me and my family. 

As part of the much needed partnerships in this line of work, I've recently decided to link arms with one of the more present and well-equipped denominations in the area. I won't spill the beans yet... but the list of associations that remain faithful to orthodox Christianity are dwindling in number. I'm hoping this partnership works out, that I clear all the vetting, and that we can work together to advance the Kingdom of God here in Douglas.

Church planters need to be determined and ambitious... and thanks be to the Lord, he has strengthened me in those areas to press on. Douglas will see a growth of healthy, Gospel-preaching, multiplying churches in its near future. It'll take time. But it'll be worth it. All to the glory of God!

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