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Adventures in Church Planting

by Acts 29 Church Planter, David Whitehead
Grace Church, NYC 
Originally published here

"The flames lit on their little heads
and bravely and dangerously went they onward."
- Garrison Keillor


This potent description from a radio show host on the book of Acts speaks to me as a church planter.  The church that I've been privileged to help plant, Grace, is approaching the two year mark in September.  It's been a journey of ups and downs, despair and joy, setbacks and progress.  I've learned more about myself and my strengths and weaknesses than any Keirsey report could ever show.  My idolatries of being successful or important are constantly exposed by the tossing waves of weekly attendance or offerings.   Yet in the midst of this cauldron of insecurities and challenges, I feel more alive than ever.

My wife and I will tell you that leaving behind the secure environment of an established church to start something new has been one of the most refreshing and invigorating steps of our spiritual lives.  It ranks up there with salvation and marriage.  There was something about stripping off the comforts of certainty that caused us to seek God in fresh, real ways.  My prayer life is rich.  My spiritual senses have been renewed.  Like the crispness of the autumn air, we feel alive.

Church planting is epic.  By that I mean that church planting is a series of adventurous and heroic acts over a long period of time.  It's not like a two-hour movie where everything is resolved conveniently in time for dinner.  This is an epic marked with miraculous provision, lives being transformed before your very eyes, and twists and turns that you could never have imagined.  In short, it's the adventure of a lifetime.

I think that all of us were made for adventure.  The box office returns of action/adventure films reveal to us our longing for something that is worth putting our lives on the line for.  I remember when God called me to plant this church.  I had a divine dissatisfaction with the status quo.  When the Holy Spirit revealed to me that I was to lay down all my former ministry to follow the guidance of the Master, God's grace caused everything else to pale in comparison.  It wasn't easy, but it has certainly been good.

I pray that this blog stirs your heart to be willing to bravely and dangerously go onward in whatever the Lord puts in front of you.  That fact that you don't know how the story ends is one of the things that makes an adventure what it is.  But this is what we were made for on this earth: to lay down our life and take up our cross.  We know that this is where life is truly found.