Residency Day 12: It’s Monday, and raining. I’m sitting quietly in a Starbucks at the corner of Edwards Mill and Duraleigh in Raleigh. It’s 9:39 in the morning, and I just read the following words from Church Planting Landmines. After using the analogy of playing chess, and proving how important the ‘middle game’ is to the game, Tom Nebel and Gary Rohrmayer write, “The middle game [as a pastor in ministry] is the years between 35-55. Statistically speaking, people in ministry burn out, give up, or are disqualified most often between the ages of 35-55. In other words, if you are younger than 35 and haven’t lost the game yet, don’t be deceived into thinking that you’re bullet-proof. The fact is that that train just hasn’t come down your tracks yet- at least the way it will.” So here I sit as an idealistic and optimistic 33 year old wondering what train will be coming down my tracks.
Yesterday, a family from Immanuel Christian Reformed Church in Hamilton came to visit. They were on vacation visiting family nearby. In one great conversation, I was asked the personal question: “What if this whole church planting thing fails?” I would like to say that failure is not an option. It has to work! At the same time, I am fully aware that failure is a reality. Many church plants don’t take root. Many godly, holy, multi-talented planters didn’t succeed in planting a church that lasts.
That’s why this residency is so important. Growing ‘self’ before growing ‘church’ is the tagline to this website. That’s because all the people and material I’m researching suggests that the ‘self’ needs to be ‘in order’ before you dive into this particular ministry. Some people have scared me a little, in fact. I think it’s comparable to what I do to couples I’ve led in premarital counselling. I scare them as much as I can in their state of puppy-dog love. They need to know that God designed marriage to embody covenant, not coziness. I’m grateful for the voices that come before me in this endeavour of church planting, and I’m praying that the train coming my way won’t hit me, but will take me on a God-led journey with the Holy Spirit as the engine and me as the caboose.