The in-between times. You’ve probably been there. Maybe you’re there right now.
Hanging in the murky space between leaving a ministry and either starting, helping start, or joining a new one. It can be tough. It can also be incredible. What’s the difference?
The difference is in what you do with your time. Where do you spend this time and in whose company? Do you and your family become Sunday hermits? Or do you utilize in-between times to learn, grow, expand and refine your vision and make meaningful connections with other people?
I recently had lunch with a dear friend and church planter’s wife, Karen Nelms. She is at the beginning of a new church plant. Their launch for Chosen Generation Church went incredibly well. I was excited for her and her team because they had been very patient as they waited for the launch day to arrive. After our conversation, there were several things I realized she and her team had done during the in-between times that may have contributed to the success of their launch.
One disclaimer: I believe God is in charge of each church plant. Sometimes churches take off right away. That is God’s plan. Sometimes churches limp along for long stretches of time. I believe that to be God’s plan, also. However, I like to see what church planters and their wives are doing and learn from their success. If God wants to use these examples to help grow other churches, He will. That being said, I’d like to share some of the things Karen’s church plant did well during the in-between times to help them prepare for their launch.
What did they do during the in-between times?
- Pray: Karen’s team prayed and continues to pray a lot. Jesus tells us to keep praying and to not lose heart. Think of the example from the Bible–the widow who begged for justice. The woman kept on bugging a city judge to give her justice against her adversary. After continued begging, the judge finally said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:1-8 ESV) Keep praying. God will help you! Pray for people to join your team. Pray for God to open the flood gates and provide resources for your church. Pray God will protect you and your family as you set out to build God’s church. Pray, pray and then pray some more!
- Remain a part of the larger Christian community: I have to admit there have been in-between seasons when John and I had trouble plugging into church. There were many reasons for this. We were burned out. We didn’t know where to go. We had been hurt by people and needed to rebuild our trust. However, the times I have pulled away from Christian community, I have lost out on opportunities to grow alongside Christ’s body. During the in-between times you will benefit from being plugged into a Christian community. Find a way to bless someone else’s ministry and allow them to be a blessing back. This is exactly what Karen and her team did. They were plugged into The R.O.C.K. Church. Being a part of this church while they waited to plant their own allowed them to work alongside the people who ended up helping them launch. Not only does serving in another church provide opportunities to gain more experience, but it also blesses the church that may end up turning around and helping you during your launch. It’s a mutual relationship–Christ’s body.
- Use this time to learn and grow: The in-between time can be a powerful springboard to your new ministry. Ask questions. Analyze existing models and ministries. Read, think, write and plan knowing this time of reflection will benefit you, even if your plans end up playing out differently.
- Be flexible knowing God will open and close doors. Karen told me that during their in-between time, many doors were closed. They thought they were going to meet in a certain facility, and it didn’t work out. The dates changed. But they remained patient and kept pressing forward to find what God would have for them. God opened the right doors for their new church, and there is so much joy at Chosen Generation for how things ended up working in the end.
- Be thankful for this time: The in-between times are times of rest. It will only be a matter of time before you are juggling the complex pieces of a new church plant, so enjoy the fact that your ministry load is lighter right now. I believe God knows what He is doing, so during these times trust the details will work out. You will be able to look back at some point and say, “Okay, I see what God was doing there.”
If you are interested in finding out more about Chosen Generation Church or The R.O.C.K. you can check out their websites below. Keep them in your prayers, and let us know how we can be praying for you and your church plant, too.
Thank you, Jesus, for allowing us to lean on you as you build your church. Please help us to be patient and productive in the in-between times. Help us to know where to plug in while we are waiting on you to begin our new ministries. Show us what you want us to learn during this time. We know it is you who builds your church. Continue to provide for us in every way.