Convinced I had good reasons, I told my dear friend Rhett Dodson that I was not interested in planting a church. I’ve been thinking about that conversation this past week as May 2nd marked the 5th anniversary of the first bible study and prayer meeting of Trinity Church PCA (pictured above). I’m so thankful, and will always be indebted to Rhett for gently pushing back and urging me to commit the call to plant a healthy and confessionally Reformed and PCA church in Canton, Ohio to prayer. The more my wife and I considered the joys and challenges of church planting, the more I realized that my original reasons for declining were really excuses. Underneath each excuse was a fear: What if? What if we try and it fails? What if I moved my family from a secure and stable established congregation in Mississippi to an uncertain church plant with only two core families in Ohio and it doesn’t work out? What then? In one sense those questions are healthy and necessary to ponder. Still, if I couldn’t trust the Lord to build His church and take care of my family, then what was I doing in pastoral ministry in the first place? If I am going urge people on the Lord’s Day to walk with God and trust His fatherly care, I needed to own that in my own life. And if I can’t trust God with tomorrow, how can I trust Him for eternity? After the third time telling them no, I called what would become our mother church (Grace Presbyterian) and finally surrendered, er… said yes.
Not everyone is called to plant a church. I still don’t think of myself as a church planter. I love being a Pastor. But the past five years, from that original bible study (of around a dozen people) to a particularized and self-sustaining congregation that recently purchased 16 acres of property for a future building, have been a rich blessing. Those early days of fellowship and getting to know one another were truly sweet. Many of our core group have become leaders and even elders, others remained with us for a season and have moved on to other churches. God is good. I’ve been privileged to see the Lord work extraordinary things through very ordinary means. We started by studying the book of Ephesians examining who we are in Christ and what it means to be a church experientially. We broke bread together each week. We prayed with and for one another. Eventually we grew and began worship on the Lord’s Day. In many ways, it was a season and day of small things. I love how Scott Hubbard says in a blog post for Desiring God on Zechariah 4 after the return from exile in Babylon:
"While the elders of Israel wept over this day of small things, the God of Israel did not. Despite his big plans for his people, he is not afraid of the small. Nor is the small any sure sign of his displeasure, as we so often are tempted to think: If God were really in this, things would be bigger by now! No: God had rescued them, God was with them, and God’s plans would prosper- even through a day of small things.”
Many in Israel were complaining and despairing the seemingly hopeless and impossible task of rebuilding the city and the temple. How could anything match the grandeur and splendor of Solomon’s temple? They were forgetting that God loves to use small and (seemingly) insignificant people and activities.
Our God is big. Which is why we can and should rejoice and trust his faithfulness in whatever he is calling us to do. Jesus reminds us that each day has enough trouble of its own, and tomorrow will worry about itself (Matthew 6:34). He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). Don’t despise the day of small things. Don’t despair that the road seems endless or path insurmountable. God never requires success from us, only faithfulness. The big things he may be pleased to do or not do is his sovereign and fatherly prerogative. After all, he “who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)