Traversing Into A New Body of Christ
The year 2023 has been a blessed year of change. Some people often loathe change--though we're all changing every single day whether we realize it or not. For us as a family, we've welcomed some change, while bravely embracing other changes with hearts of apprehension. I praise God for grace and for strength as we've tried to rely on Him fully through each season of change that we've been walking through! And praise God for resilient kids that have traversed it all right alongside us!
New Ministry Opportunities Can Rejuvenate Your Soul
We have been church planting as a family for almost eight years! I still remember when my son was just over a week old and coming up to Loveland with our church planting team to scout out the area! We've prayed over neighborhoods, fundraised, cried out to God, and seen so many miracles and answers to prayer the last several years. After launching a new church here we realized about three and half years ago that it was also time to change ministries. My husband took a week to fast and pray because He knew that God was up to something but didn't know what to do next. During the week my husband received multiple job offers and pursuits from other ministry leaders to come work for them--that was crazy because we hadn't even told anyone we were looking for a shift in ministry! Thankfully, God's timing was perfect and a few months later he took a position with a church planting network and we were able to stay in Loveland since he can work remote! It has been such a blessing to see my husband grow as a national leader and coach! He is passionate, pursued often for his skills, and most of all using his gifts and strengths very strategically to bless the Body of Christ. This new ministry opportunity brought a lot of rejuvenation to our souls, but we knew that we needed to eventually change our weekly commitment to the church we helped launch.
Since last summer we knew God wanted us to cheer on and serve another church planting team in the area, and so we did. It was so different getting to serve and encourage a new team without being part of the staff. It was refreshing! We gave them a nine month commitment to clarify that our service there was temporary. At the beginning of this year our time commitment with them ended and so we new it was time to ask God, "what is next for our family?"
New Is Vulnerable
Without being 100% sure of what to do next we did know one thing--we had God's blessing on moving somewhere new. Our time at the church we had planted and the one we had cheered on had come to completion and we needed to move forward as a family into new territory. We knew we weren't supposed to start another church at the moment, but to engage with a local church, plug in, rest, and wait until God says it's time to launch again. It was scary, hard, and honestly very unsteady as we started going to a new church as a family at the beginning of this year. It wasn't until I was in this new church situation that I realized I also had some church wounds that still needed healing. When you live somewhere for eight years you're going to run into people who've hurt you or your family. (That's why in my opinion it's sometimes easier to move to a new city and start over, versus working through the highs and lows of being in some relationships longterm, and also having to build boundaries and let some people exit out of your life). However, today marks five months and I'm just starting to open up to new friendships and beginning to call this place, "home." That is unusual for me, which many of you probably know. I'm usually excited about new friendships and "filled up" by new relationships. However, changing churches and having to explain that we are "church planters" but God has us on "pause" for the time being is a little humbling. I mean, my husband is employed by a church planting network so shouldn't we be part of a church plant nearby at all times!? Thankfully, my husband has received nothing but wise words of encouragement and cheering on from mentors and those over him in his job. They understand the need to have a different home base and also to have a place where your kids can plug in with other kids their age instead of always leading.
Silence Shame From the Enemy
Sometimes the enemy will try to shame us and whisper lies to make us feel like we are failures for moving on to new ventures instead of staying at the same job/church till Jesus calls us home. I hate that! It's literally a lie from the pit of hell! Not everyone is called to stay at the same place--heck, if the Apostle Paul did that there wouldn't have been a bunch of faithful churches started by him! Faithfulness for our family is going to look different than other families. God has called us to start new ministries, and so that means he probably has something new for us on the horizon or in the coming years--though for now, it's clear he wants us to put down some roots at this church and continue to creatively minister to our neighborhood in a radical way. I am coming to peace with that. And in fact, I was excited to hang out with some new church friends last night which felt really good--to not be anxious, worried, or feeling like I wanted to hide. It's taken time, but my heart is shifting and so is my family's. Sometimes you have to keep going somewhere for it to truly feel like home. I"m thankful I'm starting to feel my spirit at peace in this "new to us" church home, and excited for the relationships my family is building.
Looking back I can see some clear steps that our family knowingly and unknowingly took to make these changes in ministry.
Fast and pray asking God for strength to stay or peace to let go
Move forward in faith when you're at least 80% sure it's time
Keep moving forward and exploring through the uneasiness and fear
Pray and work through hurts that arise from the past that do not need to be part of your future (the enemy loves to show up even in new joyful places)
Be open to new people, new problems, and growth opportunities
Commit wholeheartedly (I'm still in process with this step)
Our year of change and new beginnings is still getting started! I've started a new hobby, our family has new goals, we'll have a new baby this fall, and my husband starts his master's this year as well. I'm honestly excited for all of it--but there are still moments of fear, worry, anxiousness, and feelings of failure and doubt. Thankfully, when God calls you somewhere new you can be sure that He will soften your heart for that new place, and give you strength to keep going. I pray that you're encouraged reading this post that while change is inevitable, God's unfailing love and grace is with you wherever you go! If you love Him, He's going to use you to bless and minister to others around you even when you're unsure of what step to take next. Keep pressing forward. Keep asking Him to grow and change you to look more like Him and to be used for His glory at each place He lands you.