My friend Tony Hill sent me an email this week asking me about our experience with church planting: (Tony is the mastermind behind my blog design.)
Hey Ron, I’m going through Andy Stanley’s book “Visioneering” with a friend. We are working on chapter 5 (faith as the essential ingredient for a vision) and the project for that chapter is to evaluate the success of others and I naturally thought of you. Would you mind if I sent you over around 7 questions from the book? I guess this would all relate to Grace and it would be interesting to contrast that with your previous business that didn’t go as well.
Of course I was delighted to participate, so he sent me the questions. My answers are below the questions. These are great questions and I thought someone may enjoy the exchange.
How did you get started (with respect to the area of vision and success)?
For the church it was in a time of prayer about our city with 2 other friends. The vision sat for 10 years before we did anything with it.
Also reading Jeremiah 33:9 spoke incredibly to me.
When you started out, did you feel God was leading you?
Absolutely. I resisted it a long time and it was God’s encouragement and the encouragement from others that confirmed it and pushed me forward.
Did you ever feel God had abandoned you as you pursued your vision? If so, what did you do?
Not really abandoned, but after the river prayer time my other 2 friends left town and the vision seemed hopeless. One of those came back to town years later and had been in a new church like Grace in his new town. He was ready for something new. In the meantime I had surrendered to the ministry.
What was the most faith-stretching experience you had along the way?
Asking 11 couples to walk by faith to support 3 staff members out of their own pockets if no one ever came. They did! Thankfully they never had to be stretched financially, because others came, but these were the same people who went out on a limb and signed a note on land when we purchased it.
As you began to experience the rewards of success, did it ever go to your head?
I’m sure at times I could be tempted, but I had enough previous failure in my life to keep me humble. I recognize that this could all disappear some day if God removed His hand.
Is there anything particular that helps keep your success in perspective?
My family is my largest grounding tool. They are brutally honest with me, reminding me how unspectacular I am sometimes.
What would you do differently if you had to do it over?
I would not hide the fact that God has something big for us. I think, because a church plant can be so unpopular, that I was bashful about what we were doing at first. I would be bolder in an effort to reach the lost and not hide because of small-minded negative people.