Monday, November 12, 2012

Best Laid Plans...

Proverbs 21:5 says, "The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty."

This is good wisdom. However it does not mean that every well thought out plan works or that everything always goes according to plan. Sometimes missionaries, church planters, and pastors go years before seeing one respond to the gospel and become a true disciple. Sometimes in some places such servants get killed before they ever see any fruit from their service. So this proverb teaches us to be diligent in planning but the whole counsel of God's Word reminds us not to presume upon God or to put one's confidence in those plans.

That past year and a half have not gone just as planned. In many cases they've gone better and sometimes just differently. Back in May 2011 I put together my church planting vision and strategy. I gave it meticulous thought and constant prayer. I sought out counsel and critique. Still, plans change. In August 2011 I shared with the church I had been pastoring in Port Arthur since March 2008 that I sensed the Lord directing my life toward planting a new church in Beaumont. The plan was to help the church prepare for new leadership and ministry while simultaneously putting together a network of churches for financial support and a core group for planting. By the end of 2011 we had a a good network of churches ready to partner with us but our core group consisted of only three families-- mine included!

I was getting nervous. You see according to my plan we would have 6-10 households in our core group who would meet in homes until Fall 2012 and launch a public worship service in a rental space in the Old Town community of Beaumont. Well the Lord stripped my confidence in my plans-- as diligently as they were prepared-- to drive me to faith. It was as though He took my entire timeline, threw it in a bag, shook them up, and spilled them out on the floor!

In January a free building was opened to our three couples to meet in for a year so we started meeting together on Sunday and meeting in homes. This made it easier for people to find us and over time, connect into the core group. So the "core group building phase" shifted from August 2011-December 2011 to January 2012 to the present. Over the last 10 months the Lord has knitted a fantastic planting team together. They have become family to my wife and me. I could have never thrown this group together by last December!

The free space has allowed us to save money for the eventual rental space and to use money for ministry. We finally identified a building that is in the heart of Old Town, very visible and accesible. Once again, plans have been jumbled... we'd planned to be in the building by November 1 but needed repairs to the building and inspections have delayed our transition and temporarily scuttled our planned launch. This has been frustrating but the last 18 months have taught me that the Lord's ways are not always my ways. I'm learning to continue being diligent in planning, hoping and praying for God's abundance, but also to have faith and put my confidence in His perfect plans.

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