Banner: Blog

The Courage of a Church Planter

The Courage of a Church Planter


Picto:Blog - April 7, 2009

By Pastor Scott Thomas


PictoBlog:Edith2 - Edith's Ballard Home 2

Cute Home of the deceased Edith Macefield in Ballard (Seattle)


Last summer, Ballard’s Edith Macefield passed away quietly in her home situated in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. In the wake of her life and her choices she has left many admirers and a few critics. Some have gotten tattoos imaging her home with the word “Steadfast” underneath. Others roll their eyes and call her “selfish” for refusing to sell her home and move off the lot.


Developers of the new Ballard Blocks offered her more and more money for her land as they purchased all the surrounding lots in prime real-estate in booming Ballard. Edith continued to state she didn’t care about the money. Even as the offers reached $1M for her tiny home, she wouldn’t budge.

So the jackhammers pounded, the walls of all her surrounding, familiar old neighborhood came crashing down. Her house stood on its foundations, while the world around it became rubble, then spray-painted rubble, then empty lots, then new foundations and then gargantuan structures seeming to swallow her little house.


Macefield refused $1 million for her 1,000-square-foot, circa 1900 house, so the developer of Ballard Blocks built the retail and office building around it, blank walls rising on three sides (see picture below). Construction superintendent Barry Martin befriended Macefield, who willed her house to him before she died.

The little house stood out, and from the vantage point of the Ballard Bridge, became a symbol of courage and conviction to those who glanced across the industrial wasteland beneath the bridge.


On June 15, at age 86, she died in her home--with courage.


PictoBlog:Edith1 - Edith's Ballard Home

Nestled in between a massive shopping district


The top questions church planters ask have to do with doctrine, evangelism, methods of preaching, finances, website design, administration, Bylaws, budgets, missions, marketing, projectors, sound systems, power point, demographics and finding a location. Young men (and old) think that if they accomplish all of the best practices, have enough money for a mass mailing and get a cool band, they won't have enough chairs to hold all of the people that will show up at their new church plant. Best practices aren't bad, but nothing will derail a church plant any quicker if the planter does not have courage rooted in the gospel.


Courage. Webster defines it as "mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty." It has a few synonyms that are helpful: mettle, spirit, resolution, and  tenacity. They mean mental or moral strength to resist opposition, danger, or hardship. Courage  implies firmness of mind and will in the face of danger or extreme difficulty, particularly unpopular causes.   Mettle suggests an ingrained capacity for meeting strain or difficulty with fortitude and resilience . Spirit suggests a quality of temperament enabling one to hold one's own or keep up one's morale when opposed or threatened . Resolution stresses firm determination to achieve one's ends . Tenacity adds to resolution implications of stubborn persistence and unwillingness to admit defeat .


I have exercised courage well at times and not so well at other times. I have received a vision from Jesus for the direction of the local church and I have called people to follow it by abandoning self, former practices, traditions, sinful habits and neglect of having a passion for God's plan. I have also overlooked sin in others, been afraid to speak up in a confrontational way, and side-stepped a challenging doctrine. Additionally, I have exerted courage in a prideful way. Here's where the tight-rope balance is tricky. I have courageously confronted others with arrogance and pride, and not with the gospel. I have dared others to follow my courageous passion in a condescending way.


I can say that every time I exercised godly courage--one with humility and love for others, the results have been blessed. Likewise, every time I either was not courageous or did not exercise it in a way that was imaging the gospel, it turned out horribly. Those are times when it is necessary to be courageous enough to repent to those you have wronged, whether in action or attitude or both.


Edith showed courage, an old lady stood up to a major developer and her house stands in tribute to her courage and conviction.


Jesus showed courage by coming to earth as a human and accepting the pain and suffering and eventual death to take our place and to atone for our sins. The empty tomb stands as a tribute to His courage and victory over sin.



  • Matt Chandler talks about the Calling and Courage of a Church Planter.
  • CJ Mahaney's great article on a Pastor's Priority to watch their life and doctrine in PDF.
  • CJ Mahaney sermon on personal character and loving people.


Next Boot Camp: San Diego, CA

Host: Kaleo Church

New Life Presbyterian Church
5333 Lake Murray Blvd.                   
La Mesa, CA  91942


 Missional Influence: Multiplying Leaders on Mission for the Gospel

Cost: $149 each | $99/couple for assessment (Must have Phase 1 completed in the application process with Acts 29)


To Register click HERE




Nathan Lindley

on Jun 24, 2009 :: 11:58 am

This is an amazing story! I've seen the building and it truly stands as a monument to the strength of the individual. If a little old lady can stand up to a developer, the church should be able to stand up other injustices in society. Maybe, then, our steeples will be monuments too.
Nathan Lindley
Good Catch Publishing