In church planting, you have to say it once in awhile.
There are not enough tissues, or in many church planter’s cases, rolls of toilet paper since they may not afford boxes of tissues, for the tears we shed over leaving. The first thing you do before you plant a church is say, “Goodbye,” to your existing church. You leave friends and family, and ministries that helped you grow in the Lord. But it has to happen if we are going to continue planting churches.
I cried buckets (probably literal ones) when we left our last church. I knew for months we were going to be leaving, and I hid those tears behind glasses and weird hand gestures to make swiping my cheeks look like I wasn’t crying. When it was finally time to tell everyone we were leaving, the tears flowed more freely. The church gave us several amazing framed photos, so we would remember them. As if we could ever forget. We love you, Infusion! One of the photos is of the fig tree where John hung swings for our girls and the other kids at the church.
These are the swings my girls used to play on at Infusion Church, Escondido.
This past weekend, I spent Sunday with some dear friends, Keith and Tafida Allen, who said, “Goodbye” to their congregation. They had been at their church plant (originally called Living Stone Fellowship, or LSF, and then renamed Redemption) for over five years, and it was simply time to go. Another wonderful pastor and his wife, Charlie and Bridgette Garrison, were lined up and ready to take their place. The Allens were feeling called to Providence, Rhode Island, which is one of the most unchurched states in our country, so, they had a wonderful reason to leave. But it didn’t matter. The sting of “Goodbye” was still there. There were so many tears and heartfelt stories of how this couple was used by God to change lives, and I know God will use them again in Providence to do His work.
I asked Tafi if she would be willing to share the sweet words she read to her congregation on Sunday. Her words provide a heartfelt window into what it was like for one woman to say, “Goodbye.” Join me in praying for the Allen family as they move on to their next churchplanting journey. Here are her words (“Minus the massive amounts of tissue,” she said.)…
A letter from church planter wife, Tafida Allen
August 10, 2014
Goodbye, Redemption ￼
It started late 2009. I was pregnant with my third child when God put in the call. The call to plant a church. Keith and I weren’t promised much. But we were promised that there was a high chance of failure and like most church planters, a tremendous weight of stress would be upon us.
“…fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Lets plant a church. Lets plant ‘God’s church’. That was always the theme! THIS IS GOD’S CHURCH. Not Keith’s, not mine, not even the RCA’s, but God’s.
Our early months of planting would consist of excitement, loneliness, dreaming, stress and a wondering of where is God taking us. Living Stone Fellowship is what we decided to name this little church.
LSF (Living Stone Fellowship) had a small Children’s Ministry, which was led by myself with a small handful of volunteers. I quickly got in a rhythm of hosting meetings, events, outreach and studies in my home. I enjoyed hosting and found the laughter and food wonderful…cleaning was not the fun part.
During this time, God literally gave us a new house to rent. Our old house was quite small and this new house was quite large. My gut said, “No! Too much space. I don’t need it!” God agreed. I didn’t need it, but LSF did. Church, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve opened my home to church-related events. And it’s been a joy to see God glorified on Beach Street in Bellflower.
As all of you know, LSF merged with Revolution. During the merge, it was an exciting time. Meeting new people gave birth to new meaningful friendships. It led to more weddings, more names to remember and of course, more hosting. Church, let me encourage you. When you don’t know people in the church or if they’re new, let it not be an opportunity for grumbling, but an opportunity for a new chapter of something bigger. If it wasn’t for all the ‘new people’ with the merge, I would have the friendships I hold dear today.
Hosting in our large house led to co-housing. Before the plant, we’ve co-housed with a handful of diverse people. During the plant, we’ve co-housed with three Redemption Church women, and currently still with the third. Co-housing is messy; it’s hard and yet, co-housing is a tremendous blessing. It’s been a joy to live with these fine sisters-in-Christ. I love them deeply. Sharing space is a wonderful experience. And through the ups and downs, God is glorified.
As we became Redemption Church, my friendships went even deeper and my love for the Church became strong and protective. Redemption has loved a lot of people. I love how Redemption loves our friends without houses…the elderly…the poor…the broken-hearted…God is glorified.
“He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of stars and call them each by name.
Great is our Lord and mighty in powers,
His understanding has no limit.”
Redemption Church serves a very powerful GOD. Let no one forget.
I’ve also watched the Renewal ministry grow. Renewal is a place for mothers to receive support, love and the hope of the Gospel. It gives me great joy to serve and love these special women. And the support and wise words I have personally received means the world to me. I pray Renewal keeps blessing mothers and pointing them to Jesus.
I love Redemption Church. And I love the people of Redemption Church. We are a messy people in need of God’s grace and the hope of Jesus Christ. Thank you Redemption for loving me and my family well. I am desperately going to miss you. I love you all so much.
Please, please, please pray. I ask that you would seriously pray for our next church plant. God loves Providence so much and He has called us to plant there. Please pray earnestly with all you heart:
- that only God is glorified
- for my marriage/layers of protection
- for my children/protection/emotions/transition
- for funding
Pray, too, for people of peace in the area and pray that God would soften the hearts of Providence. You are always welcome to visit us in Providence as we know we are always welcome here. Continue to be a blessing and always give God the Glory.
Thank you, Tafi, for sharing your words with church planter wives. I hope your story will bring comfort to other women experiencing the same thing you are going through.
What was your most difficult “Goodbye?” Feel free to share your story in the comment section of this blog. We’d love to hear about it.