The last Sunday in August of 2005, my wife and I met with a group of people who were interested in helping start a new church in South Paulding County in the Ridge Road community. There were several families there at that initial meeting. We shared vision and talked about what God had been doing in our lives to prepare us for this step of faith. One month later, we officially began. This Sunday marks the 5th anniversary of that initial Core Group gathering of The Church @ The Ridge. At that time, we simply had a name, some vision, and a few people, but God would do something significant.
There were 7 families, besides my own, and 3 single adults at that initial meeting. Of those, 3 families still remain @ The Ridge and are serving God faithfully here. Two of those singles got married to each other and went on to move to Savannah 2 years ago to help start our first daughter church. All in all not a bad percentage of them have stayed with us. Statistically 80% of people who help start a church are not there after three years. Well, we’ve done a little better than that, thanks to God. 🙂 Some of those who moved on, had said from the start that God had called them to help get this thing off the ground…which they did faithfully. I am thankful to those who sacrificed, gave, served, and worked so hard in those early days.
One thing I’ve learned is that if you count on people, even the best of them will eventually disappoint you. Heck I have even disappointed myself many times! But if you trust God, no matter what people do, HE will build his church. This church planting thing is HIS. I have learned that I cannot build anything that will last. If I build the church, I am simply building an organization…one that will not stand. If Jesus builds it, nothing can stand against it. I simply need to be about lifting up the name of Jesus and letting HIM draw men to Himself.
I also learned that when Jesus said in Matthew 16:18,
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
…that city gates were made for defensive purposes. So when the gates of hell won’t prevail against the church, it stands to reason that the church is to be on offense. I’ve learned that we don’t need to be reactive, but proactive as the church. Boy, it is easy to fall into that reactive mode, though! Especially during these tough economic times we’ve experienced. We have gone through phases recently where it felt like it was all we could do to tread water. But God…is going to build HIS church. Jesus is the Head and we are HIS body. I’ve learned that on my best day, my best ideas are extremely anemic, weak, and pitiful compared with what Jesus, the Head, has in mind.
Since ancient times no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. (Isaiah 64:4)
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, (Ephesians 3:20)
What are we afraid of? What do we really believe about God? He says that His church will stand. I’ve learned to not be afraid and to stay on offense…seeking His wisdom, being a wise steward, equipping the church through the Word, but moving forward. Pressing on.
So I’ve learned in this church planting venture to lift up Jesus and trust in Him and seek His wisdom more than I ever have before. Trust in God and not in people. What is interesting is that the middle verse in the entire Bible is found in Psalm 118:8 which says,
It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.
Maybe that’s the way we should all be living all along.