Some Walls Down Waddup

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!

17 thoughts on “Some Walls Down Waddup

  1. paul (and crew)-

    i have so much respect for you. i have enjoyed following your journey since i’m doing the same thing. i think it takes great steel to make the decision you did.

    it’s amazing how God uses experiences like this to shape us and help us grow. i believe you’re a great leader and your best days are ahead of you. i’m excited to see what’s next.

    your friend,

    jason salamun
    projectchurch.net

  2. Paul and Sherri
    At Merge my heart broke for you guys! I love all of you and you should know you are welcome here at the Majeruses any time!

  3. My husband and I took a leap of faith a couple years ago. We researched, consulted professionals, and poured money, heart, soul and credit cards into it. We were certain of our decisions yet we weren’t sure that its purpose was necessarily something we could see. Turns out, our foray into purchasing investment property at the worst possible time in real estate history, was not about reaching our goal of managing property and stabilizing our finances because we realized neither. But relationships were restored after years of brokenness, we were able to help someone get back on their feet in a really dark time. And our perspective on following Jesus completely broadened. We determined that our investment had run its course and it was time to get out of it. Didn’t seem right. Didn’t seem fair. Lost our shirts on the deal yet there is peace that we followed God.

    I know this doesn’t compare to your journey. I’m sorry Walls Down didn’t work the way you envisioned. I know you know this so sorry for being trite…God’s hand is on you and working in and through you. I told Rindy I look forward to hearing what happens down the road.

  4. Paul – Let’s connect soon and chat. As you know we’ve been following from 2 1/2 hours north. You’re family and the Walton’s are like family to us. Read Deuteronomy 34. We’re in this with you too and praying that God will be clear in his next steps. Appreciate you all.

  5. Dude – Georgia is so jacked up with sinners! We need someone just like you here! Come on back down here where you belong, and become the best dang carpet-baggin preacher the south has ever seen!

    Seriously, I continue to pray for you and Sherri and the ladies. I selfishly hope you end up somewhere close by, but I know you’ll follow the Lord wherever he leads you.

  6. hey man… you have no idea who i am, but i’ve watched what’s going on with you from afar. i’m sorry you’ve had a rough go of it… a couple of years ago i had to walk away form a church i helped start, for an entirely different set of reasons.

    anyway… you seem to be an avid reader… check out the book “the shaping of things to come.” i think you’ll find some answers there.

    all the LORD’s best.
    gary

  7. I really wanted to say something profound and comforting. The only that comes to mind is…that sucks!!! Praying for you…your family and your team. Holler if I can be of service to you….you’ve got my number.

  8. Hey Bro!

    I am sorry that this has been and continues to be such a tough time. As I reflected on this great challenge, it came to me that God must really love you and your family to allow you to endure such a challenge.

    I mean this.

    I have had very, very hard times in my life Paul and have grown to understand that those rock bottom moments expose the peculiar reality that God often lets his chosen leaders experience enormous pain and heartache for something profound that’s ahead.

    Now is the time when I would really listen to His whispers.

    Your Friend Always,

    Shaun King

  9. Paul, when I read your post I bowed my head & prayed for you & your beautiful family. I have watched your life & seen how God has used & is using you. I wish that I had all the answers, but your attitude about it all is tremendous. Keep the faith!

  10. My heart is grieving with you. You have a heart for ministry. I know someday you will use this in a powerful sermon…one initiated by God. I have seen God use you in powerful ways and he is using you now in this moment.
    You and your family inspire me.

  11. Paul

    I am so sorry to hear that your dream is not happening with this church. Boy do people not know what they are missing by having you for a pastor. We miss you so much. We are praying for you and the Ladies……… Think of you often. Keep us posted. You will never be forgotten by our family!!!

    The Klein Family

  12. Hi, Paul. So sorry to hear about this new development. We recently watched our own hopes and dreams crash around us. No easy answers. I do know that God is faithful. His ways are far above our ways and we won’t ever fully understand them. Hang in there. Lift up your head, there is a hope and a bright future ahead. It is different than what you had envisioned but God has good plans for all of us.

  13. Pastor Paul,
    God has gifted you with the ability to preach His truth in a way that changes lives. Stay focused and tuned in-God will continue to use you. Said confidently, from a believer in a congregation that called you pastor.

  14. Paul-

    Failures make us stronger people.

    I don’t know how this applies to you, because you are truly the strongest man I know and the man I respect the most on this Earth.

    Please let me know what I can do to help. I am in Milwaukee now and will do anything I can to help out.

    I love you, man.

    *hugs*

    -Thomas J.

  15. Paul,
    I was shocked to read your post. I actually got Rindy’s first. My heart aches for you as you travel this journey into the unknown. Keep praying and following His lead. He will turn this disappointment into His triumph. You are truly a gifted and powerful preacher and I miss hearing you preach. I miss that fire! I am praying for you and your family.
    Blessings

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