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The Joys and Struggles of Church Planting

March 10, 2010

We are still small and just getting started but the joys and struggles of church planting are definitely present. The church plant I am a part of in SW Portland, OR is called Missio. It started with the heart and vision of the lead pastor and over a few years he networked and shared heart with others who came along side him. As the time was right in their lives four men stepped up into leadership to guide and direct the church. Some are in this full time, others are tent making. Their wives are also on board as are a few others of us who make the core team.

In January we started weekly community groups that we call Missional Communities. They are called this to 1) fit with the name of our church and 2) fit with the heart and vision of the church that we should be and need to be missional in our daily lives.

This week marks the last time we will meet together as a single community group. We now have enough people to start a second group and likely will start a third group somewhere in the near future because the church is growing. It is such a joy to meet new people, learn their stories, share life with them, and begin to see the vision and heart of the church grow in people’s hearts. We are excited and hopeful for what is to come.

The growth it wonderful, but with it comes questions and struggles. Right now those involved in our church live all over the Portland Metro area, all over except for the exact area we want to plant in. Due to that we are asking some questions about where to meet, what our options are, who we can network with, etc. As we grow and change those questions will become even more important to answer because we will want to set our feet down in an area of town and start making friendships and relations. The questions get even more difficult than just where can we meet because the way we answer that question could affect who will share with us. Do we meet in a church? If so, will there be people who are uncomfortable in that atmosphere? What about in an office building? A pub? A YMCA? A school? A business? Each of these locations has benefits and negatives. For now, I think we are hoping to meet in homes as much as possible to build community and keep things intimate.

We are also fleshing out exactly who we are as a community. While the church started with the vision and heart of the lead pastor, it is changing and adjusting as others are joining us and asking questions. They bring perspectives that cause us to rethink something we have said or thought. Churches are diverse and often there can be people who are a part of the church that hold different theological beliefs, views about how to reach out to the community, and varying thoughts about how our faith plays out in our daily lives. Different perspectives are wonderful, but sometimes it can also be hard to work through the differences. I hold to the belief though that if we all come with open hearts to listen, learn, share, be authentic, and if we are willing to come before the Lord to pray through the issues we will find resolve.

I am loving the journey of starting this church, walking alongside these people, and starting to get to know the community we are would like to plant the church in. While there are a lot of unknowns and uncertainties I am actually enjoying that challenge and the changes that come with. Every day holds new opportunities as we think things are decided and find they aren’t. We face challenges explaining our heart and focus to others who might feel uncomfortable, challenged, or even threatened by us.

Daily I am learning that the most important thing is to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love my neighbors (all of them!) to the very best of my ability. It makes the day so much easier and fills it with hope.

So, tonight we will gather again to share community with the small but committed group of people looking to seek after God, and tonight we will talk about how to reach beyond our Missio Community to the community of SW Portland to see the Lord touch people as we care for the poor, the lonely, the widows and orphans, and as we seek to love on and make meaningful relations with those who may never set foot in our church but who we believe are worthy of love, care, grace, mercy, and compassion.

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