Friday, December 16, 2011

Gardening for God

My mother has this amazing in-door/out-door garden that’s almost tour-worthy. It looks like one big seamless botanical design that’s just slightly interrupted by the mesh that separates the screened-in porch and the backyard. She puts a lot of work into nurturing and refreshing that garden and it gives her great pleasure and a sense of accomplishment to do it – it’s a passion.

I’m afraid her green thumb skipped a generation with me. I never found any enjoyment in planting trees and flowers – even my bridal bouquet was silk and linen – but planting churches… that’s something I could get passionate about.

I’ve been crossing paths with church planting since I was a kid. My parents were instrumental in a church plant that met in a school gym for a while and then eventually bought land and build a church building that my father actually designed and drafted the blueprints for. Later, just after my husband and I got married we had the opportunity to be a part of another church plant in the CMA church.

My husband had grown up in (and introduced me to) the Christian Missionary Alliance (CMA) church when we were dating. The CMA has been focused on fulfilling the Great Commission through church planting since the 1880s and it was a core value that immediately resonated with me.

Flash-forward to January 10, 2009 and our church (Fair Oaks Church) held a mini-conference called “PIVOT” where the LOUD ON PURPOSE vision was launched and it was announced that Fair Oaks Church would be planting a church in Toronto, Canada with plans to plant 9 more as a part of a “decavision.”

Church-planting! How exciting! Since church-planting was already something in our spiritual DNA, when my husband and I heard Fair Oaks Church was going to be planting a churches we totally “got it” and knew that at some point over the course of the 10 churches to be planted we would be called to be a part of it in one way or another.

Yes, church planting can be bitter-sweet when families who are an integral part of church’s ministries leave the home church, but God’s call to be the seeds of a church-planting is awesome – awesome for the families God has called, awesome for Fair Oaks Church, awesome for the Great Commission and awesome for the kingdom of God!

If people within a church have never been exposed to the church-planting model, there’s an unfortunate opportunity for misunderstandings or misinterpreting the church’s expansion of its reach as people “leaving” their home church. I’m sure there was a small element of that when it was announced, it would be natural. But this is a God-led Fair Oaks Church initiative that everyone should be supporting – spiritually, logistically, financially and relationally. These special families with this important call are not really leaving – not spiritually, just physically. It’s an opportunity to pull together, not pull away.

The CMA website has a great article identifying the biblical perspective of church planting. In a look at the Acts of the Apostles from the perspective of the multiplying church, here are the Ten Behaviors of Church-Multipliers:

1.   Wait for the Holy Spirit’s Power - Acts 1:4, 1:14, 15, 16-26 & 2:1, 19:13-16 - Don’t miss the activity surrounding the word WAIT. WAIT did not, and does not mean be idle!
2.   T rust God to Provide - Acts 1:8-8:1, 16:6, 19:10, 5:1-11 - Today more than ever we need to hear from God and receive His direction.
3.   Anticipate Victories Emerging from God’s Control - Acts 8:1-8, 12:1-19 - Multiplication attracts opposition and God leverages all of this for His purposes.
4.   Expect and Discern Divine Appointments - Acts 5:16-39, 8:26-40 - The church multiplier properly aligned with God is now confident to observe and go with what God is doing.
5.   Observe and Join what God is Doing - Acts 9:1-31, 17:16-17 - The best multipliers don’t get so lost in activity that they miss the circumstance. They have good timing. They are moving.
6.   Stand Strong Even in the Face of Opposition - Acts 5:40-6:1, 7:59-60 - Church multipliers are more influenced by the eternal than preoccupied by the temporal.
7.   Praise First - In and Out of Adversity - Acts 3:6-10, 16:22-30 - Church multipliers recognize that praise is potent. God receives it and deserves it. He lives in this praise! He multiplies in the environment of praise.
8.   Build Bridges to the People - Acts 10:1-29, 11:18 - Being immovably certain of how we should minister will blind us to incredible opportunities.
9.   Empower and Release Your Best People - Acts 6:5-7:60, Acts 13:1-3, Acts 13:5 - Multiplying churches are the residual of multiplying leaders.
10. Relentlessly Focus on Bringing People to Christ and His Kingdom - Acts 20:24 - This is why we multiply leaders. This is why we multiply churches. And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. – Jesus

Although my family has not felt God’s call to be a part of these first two church plants by moving with the teams, we have absolutely been called to support those church plants in different ways and stand ready to answer God’s call whenever it comes and for whatever He wants us to do. I may not have my mother’s green thumb with trees and flowers, but if I were Gardening for God by helping to plant a church, I’m certain each seed would sprout and flourish for His glory.

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