Nampa Bible Church | Nampa, ID
- Sharad Yadav
- Feb 23, 2011
- Series: Church Profiles
- Categories: Church Planting Articles, Latest News
Briefly describe your story of your call to plant a church
God has given me the rare privilege of ministering to the same church that became my church home as a new believer. Jesus found me during the end of my last year of High School and Nampa Bible Church was planted my first year of college, in 1994. After attending, working with youth and being sent to seminary, they had me back to minister alongside their senior pastor in 2001. The church excelled at Bible teaching, but unfortunately to the exclusion of genuine spiritual community or concern for the spiritual condition of their community. It was more of a seminary than a church. Ultimately it went through a series of loops and whiplash turns in the roller coaster of splits, turmoil and “foolish controversies” of various kinds to the point that the dwindling congregation was all but burned out and I was on the verge of burning out myself. It got to the point where the senior pastor, who was even more burned out than me, resigned while my family and I were on vacation. We came back to the question of whether we would call it a day and move on. It was against our every inclination to stay, but God wouldn’t let us leave. He spoke clearly through our conviction and the voices of those in our church who were close to us; we needed to replant the church. We had no idea what that would mean, and we’re still in the process of figuring it out – but the conviction that it must be done has only been growing stronger since that time.
How did you build up your core? What advice would you give to guys in the core-stage?
We started with a core of about 40-60 people when the pastor left in 2009. Building a core within an established church is very difficult because of the strong instinct to resist change and keep what was unhealthy about the church alive for fear of people leaving, relationships being severed and the church dying. The comfort of church they way they’ve always done it can be a functional savior. We’re still in the process of building up our core, but from what I can see thus far, it basically involves finding those things which are not Jesus that people are resting their faith upon and intentionally shaking it – not for the sake of cruelty but to expose how these things have taken the place of Christ in their lives, which is a weight that only He can bear. Walking beside shell-shocked people who are struggling through these things can be a painful process, as not everyone will realize the dangerous exchange they’ve made – but remembering that they are God’s people, not our people, (and that if they are His Jesus will continue to shepherd them even if they leave the church) is paramount to maintaining your sanity and staying on mission. The people who are left will be closer to Christ and have more of His heart for the mission. It’s a lesson we’re still learning.
What were the biggest challenges you faced in planting your church (and/or currently facing)?
In our situation the biggest difficulty in replanting is the fact that we were a part of the unhealthy spiritual environment that permeated the old church. We weren’t coming in from the outside, where dispassionate observation could show us what was right and wrong about the way were functioning. Our lives reflected everything we were frustrated about with our church. We participated in a church culture that was afraid of change, mistrustful of people (given our many splits) and skeptical about God’s ability to work in and through such sinful people as ourselves. All of that meant that for genuine renewal we had to lead the way in confession, repentance and belief in the Gospel that results in extending ourselves in relationship to those outside the church and seeking the welfare of the city. We had to open ourselves to community after having been hurt numerous times in Christian fellowship. We had to be disciples who made disciples instead of teachers who made students. All of this radical change in our lives has been simultaneously the most painful and joyful part of our ongoing journey.
How did you become involved with Acts 29? What have been the biggest benefits of being in the network?
I heard of Acts 29 through missionary friends and the preaching ministry of Mark Driscoll and Matt Chandler. A friend invited us to a Total Church conference where we were particularly impacted by the teaching of Jeff Vanderstelt and Caesar Kalinowski. The centrality of the Gospel and rigorous logic in working the mission of its expansion through every aspect of church life, from discipleship and evangelism to counseling and administration was something I’d read in theory from theologians and missiologists but was breathtaking to see in person. Every step of our experience of joining Acts 29 has reinforced that initial impression. The Gospel permeates every communication, requirement, interaction and relationship with the network, which was the fresh air I’ve needed for a long time in my previous church experience. The love and commitment to me manifested in the pastoral tone of the assessment process to the personal connections made in coaching relationships has been nothing short of unreasonable. The best thing about the network is the networking – the relationships with other pastors who live and breathe for your personal, spiritual and ministerial success. It seems trivial to call the caring mutual mentorship beneficial – it’s been a lifeline I can’t imagine living without.
What advice do you have for men who are wrestling with the decision to plant?
I think it’s so important to remember what is and is not on the table in the decision to plant. I need to remember that if my walk with God, relationship with my wife or discipleship of my kids is ever on the table I am selling my birthright for what amounts to nothing in comparison. Replanting is the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do, and it remains to be seen whether I can do it; but if it turns out that I can’t, I want to be able to say that I didn’t lose Jesus, my wife or my children. God doesn’t need me. He doesn’t require the peace, rest and joy of my salvation in exchange for a church plant. If I ever find myself willing to pay those things I need to reconsider whether the decision has anything to do with Jesus at all. Whether its planting or replanting, it’s Jesus who ultimately builds his church and His success doesn’t rest on ours. That can be a very freeing thought, regardless of what you decide.
What's the most important thing you'd want to share with a new church planter?
Humble yourself under people whose strengths make up for your weaknesses. I have been blessed to form a connection with a local A29 church whose pastor speaks into my life with boldness and directness that I need. If God accepts us in Jesus we can give people the freedom to be honest with us, which is exactly what we need. I think the freedom to fail, be weak, make mistakes and be a sinner in need of Christ’s salvation is the only thing that can give any longevity to what we’re trying to do – not only because we’re confident we’re going to do a lot of failing, but because the experience of seeking Jesus for help is exactly what we want for people who don’t yet know Him, and we won’t know how to share it with them if we’re not experiencing it. You’re a follower of Jesus before you’re a leader of others.
How do you pastor your family?
Pastoring my family well is almost entirely dependent on how well I pastor myself. Being in touch enough with the Holy Spirit to know what I’m thinking, feeling, believing and how it comes out in the way I live enables me to lead my family in my own confession, repentance and belief in the Gospel. In order for my family to witness the work of God’s Spirit in my life I have to make time to be with Jesus and to be with them, which are usually the last two things on the list rather than the first two. No “quiet time”, family bible study or scripted worship times can take the place of spontaneous God-given teachable moments that the Spirit brings by simply being together, weaving Scripture into the daily stuff of life and being open to what God is communicating. If our family’s super-spiritual schedule is an impossible standard for the people we’re trying to reach, multiplication in discipleship won’t happen and we’re missing the point.
Outside of the Bible, what is the most helpful book you have read for church planting?
For practical purposes, The Gospel Centered Church by Timmis and Chester was a great study guide.
Church Profile: Nampa Bible Church
Location: Nampa, ID
Mission, Vision, Values of Church
Nampa Bible Church exists to bring glory to God in lives transformed by the Good News of Jesus Christ.
What are some examples of God's grace that you have seen in your life and/or the life of your church?
God’s grace very often comes in the form of pain – taking away those things we have come to grow dependent upon which can neither satisfy the hungers of our soul or keep the promises of comfort we are so quick to believe. Whenever our church has moved closer to Jesus it has been prompted by pain. The act of sending one another into the world to reach those God has called to save involves the pain of leaving what’s comfortable and safe to places and people that aren’t. Sometimes God has to inflict pain so that we feel what they feel and we are more able to reach them. Replanting has involved some pain – by God’s grace it has always ultimately brought transformation by the Holy Spirit.
How can we pray for you?
We need courage and humility to lead our church into God’s mission, which begins in our own lives, with our own family and neighbors. We also need grace to remember that our salvation, and therefore my joy, is unassailable by either our success or failure as a planter/pastor.
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