"So...how can I know?"
As Jesus followers / apprentices, we all want to do the right thing, done we? Every now and again we wrestle with him, knowing we will eventually surrendering to "not my will but yours be done". That conversation is for another time.
But can I know? Does he speak to me, today, now, about this?
Yep, yep and yep.
As I embark this new year with new church planters, we all start with this question, don't we? How do I know if God wants me to plant a church? (Or how do I know you are the right one for me? Or this is the best job, or have another kiddo...)
I wrestled with that from January 2017 till around August 2017. I mean, I was 58 years old then and church planting organizations do not sponsor you if you are older than 40 (isn't that right Frikkie?) But that was still easy to organize but wasn't I suppose to be at the top of my income earning capacity? I mean should I not be leading a large church that I could retire from in 10 years? Then who would plant with me? Where should we plant? M is now a therapist, so she could not give the plant the same amount of time she had in the 2 churches we had led previously...so
The journey of 'hearing his voice' began. Nope there were no audible voices, visions, dreams or angels visiting me (Isn't it unfair that others have those very cool things happen to them?).
Nope there were no calling me out in a crowd and giving me a huge "you're name is Chris and your wife is Meryl? You live in Brea but the Lord says you will plant in Costa Mesa". Nope that did not happen either. ( But others have that happen to them, hey Michael?)
So by now my options are running low. Added to this fact is that M, who has been an amazing sojourner partner said to me "I will do it, I just need to know it is God". What was I suppose to say to that? Was the gentle but persistent tugging enough? Even some of my friend/advisers were like "are you sure you want to start again?" What was I suppose to say to that?
So I went to the scriptures - "you are a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor " a beautiful prophetic promise. Was that enough? Well I stayed in the scriptures and saw how Paul went from region to region establishing little communities of love and light wherever he went. Did he have a "word from the Lord" every time?
Well dear friends the deal breaker for me lay in..."my ear will hear a word BEHIND me say this is the way walk ye in it" Isaiah was confident to keep moving knowing that the Spirit would correct him if he was obedient . Then Joshua hid with his armor bearer while the Philistines belittled and dominated them. He said to his loyal side kick "perhaps the Lord...". Wow could I take such a big step based on a "perhaps the Lord is with us" conviction?
Lastly my heart was broken for the unchurched (those who had never had a moment to bow a humble knee to my beautiful Jesus), the de-churched (to me, these are the young millennials who are done with homeschooling, christian schools...and have tapped out) and the ex-churched (those who love Jesus but have fallen out of love with the church - could we create a community to draw them back to a Jesus journey).
And that was enough - on the 23rd of July 2017 five of us ate around a BBQ and a new community was born in my heart. That is it. That was enough.