My boys are into the book series “The Diary of a Wimpy Kid”. My 7yo grabs it every time we have reading time at home. My 5yo likes it because he thinks it’s “The Diarrhea of a Wimpy Kid”. He always flashes a mischievous smile when he looks at the cover no matter how many times we tell him it’s Diary not Diarrhea.
My journey thus far could be chronicled as “The Diary of a Wimpy Church Planter.” I’m not strong enough, smart enough, or talented enough to do this thing. It’s been all about how God has been graciously working in me and through me.
Since coming to Naperville from Champaign, when people ask me about our church plant, I’ve been answering in the ambiguous “We’ll see” and “as the Lord leads” sort of statements. That’s Chrsitianese for “I have no idea!” I was actually fine praying in my basement with a few interested people for now. Plus, I was enjoying a little “free” time from pastoral ministry to read, breathe, and visit other churches.
Then I met Pastor Chris. Long story short, through a mutual contact we became aware of each other. Walking into his church for a mid-morning meeting, I couldn’t help but notice their excellent facilities. I made a mental note to ask him after our appointment if he would consider letting us rent a room in the future. Pastor Chris warmly welcomed me and after exchanging pleasantries, I shared a little about myself and then plunged passionately into what I hoped the church plant would look like and why I came to Chicagoland.
When we stood up, I was surprised how much time had gone by. I was slightly embarrassed at myself for taking up so much of his time. As he walked me out of his office, he called his staff over and introduced me to his whole team. Then, he turned me around and pointed to an office adjacent to his. “You see this office with the empty name plate? If you want it, it’s yours.” I was shocked. He continued, “God gave us this building to be good stewards and if it’s not being used, we are not being good stewards. You want to help us be good stewards?” Uh, YEAH. So just like that I had an office space where I can go in and study.
He wanted to give me a tour of their large 3 story church building as well. In the middle of the tour I said to him, “Chris, actually, more than the office space (which I am totally grateful for), I wanted to speak with you about possibly renting a room for our church plant Sunday service.” He looked at me like I was crazy. “JP, why do you think I am giving you a tour of the church? We want to bless you with a space to worship.” Wow. God provides!
A week later, Janet and I had dinner with Chris and his wife in downtown Naperville. After dinner, in between my coffee sips, I said to him, “Chris, I have to be honest with you. I was not expecting you to offer a place, and definitely not for free.” He smiled and said, “When we met, I felt an instant connection to you and your vision, and the Holy Spirit moved my heart to help the church plant in any way possible. Don’t thank me. I’m just doing what I feel God wants me to do. The elders are excited about your ministry too.”
So it looks like God is moving us along (a little faster than I thought). One day, I hope to share about the small core team of people who are praying with me. I can’t believe the quality of people he’s brought alongside me. When I see them, I want to be a better pastor and Christian. I feel like the eight of us are in a foxhole together dreaming about building an army one day. But as I said, that’s for another blog entry.
This is the diary of a wimpy church planter. No matter how hard I flex, my muscles will never be big enough for the task ahead. Only His arm is strong enough for me (Psalm 89:13).
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. (2 Cor 11:30)
On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. (2 Cor 12:5)
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Cor 12:9)
For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor 12:10)
For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God. (2 Cor 13:4)