Hey guys! This is the toughest “waddup” I’ve ever written. Several years ago God began to stir a desire for something new in my heart. After exploring it through prayer, long conversations with my bride, consultation with mentors and friends, and deep thought, I concluded that God was calling us to start a church.
We left behind wonderful friends, a great church, a secure income, a nice home, and a secure future to prepare for this next phase of our lives.
We packed up and moved to Cumming, GA to be “church planting residents” at Mountain Lake Church in conjunction with churchplanters.com. While we were there we learned from the best church planting minds in the country. Shawn Lovejoy, David Putman, and a host of others mentored us, answered our questions, and created an incedible learning experience.
While in Atlanta, God clearly called us to Cincinnati, OH, and He gave us a clear vision of what He wanted to accomplish. Throughout the year, we built a team, secured funding, developed a strategy, and laid the groundwork for Walls Down Church.
In July of 2008, we moved to Cincinnati. We got right to work on our plan. We met people, marketed the church, worked on systems, hosted picnics, secured a facility, started meeting weekly with anyone who would come (and some did), continued learning from local church planters, and on and on and on…
We were told by several church planters, “You guys are the best prepared church plant we’ve ever seen.” We, of course, felt good about that and continued to work our plan. Along the way we had to make some adjustments but we worked the plan with diligence and determination.
The bottom line is that our plan didn’t work. Even though we did many “right things”, our best efforts simply were not enough. One of our coaches actually said to us, “I don’t know what else to tell you guys to do.”
So, about six weeks ago I made the hardest decision I’ve ever made. I determined, after fasting, prayer, tons of conversations with mentors and peers, long talks with my bride and my team, and plenty of walks by the river, that the right thing to do was to conclude our church planting effort. The fact is that we will not be planting Walls Down Church in Cincinnati.
We are disappointed with this outcome. We thought we’d roll into Cincinnati, start the church, and then write the book on how to do it in the north. Apparently God had other plans. We thought we were coming to plant a church. It appears that God called us here to break us. Job well done God.
This has been a fairly visible experience and consequently provided us with ample opportunity for humility. We were endorsed by some prestigious church planting organizations: churchplanters.com, Association of Related Churches, and even the Free Methodist Church partnered with us. We had individual churches partnering with us ranging from Southern Baptist to Nazarene and a host of wonderful individuals committed money, prayer, encouragement, and love on the journey. A lot of people were invested in and watching this process.
Someone asked me the other day, “How do you feel?” Well, I feel like you would feel if you gave your life, time, energy, passion, money, and even family to chasing a dream, starting a new business, a new ministry, a new relationship, etc. and it didn’t work out. It feels terrible. That’s how I feel. God has broken me, and yet in the midst of hurt and disappointment there is confidence, passion, and determination. We know that the vision God has put in our hearts is a right one. We also know that church planting is a tool. A strategy. We will not stop pursuing this vision. We will simply pick up a new tool… embrace a new strategy.
Many have asked, “What’s next?” We are committed to the vision of helping people find and live the life Jesus promised. We are exploring various ministry opportunities, but at this point we are not certain exactly what our next step will be, though we are certain there will be one!
There are many questions I’ve left unanswered for now. We’ll get around to answering them in due time. For now we are living in humility and confidence – humility when it comes to how we view ourselves, and confidence when it comes to how we view our Father and His power that works in and through those who trust in Him!
Ohhh… I have so much more to say, but for now it is enough to say that our best plans have not worked, and yet His best plan is at work deep in our hearts and lives.
On a related note, many of you have asked, “How is Rindy doing?” She answers this question over on her blog.
Thanks to all of you who have traveled this journey with us and let me assure you, the journey is not over; it has just begun!