Church planting is a daunting business. Only the faith-filled and faithful should apply for the job. For most it is a cross-cultural experience—unless they plant in their hometown where prophets receive little honor.
As a young planter I clung tight to Paul’s words, “my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” They still take me through dark times.
But those words follow these, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things, I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Content with the Essentials
Without Paul’s words about contentment, abasing and abounding the promise about God supplying all our needs can be mis-construed to read that he will supply all our “wants.” God assures us of the essentials necessary to our task.
I remember laying on a bed moaning to the Lord on the day that we closed our savings account, tossed everything into checking, paid our bills and had enough left over to buy our kids ice cream cones—but not enough to cover ice cream for my wife and myself.
As I lay there anticipating a meeting that I had to run that night I was terrified. My best solution was to leave the church, move a thousand miles, move my family into my parent’s basement and get a job selling used cars. Then I heard the Spirit speak to my heart, “I’ve taught you to abase, now I’ll teach you to abound.” It was an epiphany. I got off the bed refreshed and off to run my meeting. God filled my heart with faith on that terrible Monday night. He began to teach my wife and I to abound two days later when we received more than a month’s worth of personal income from three separate sources in a single day. We weren’t rich but knew we would make it into the future.
You Have What Paul Had
At the end of the day, we had as much going for us as Paul ever did. We taught God’s word in all it’s power. We had the Spirit as a source of guidance and strength. And we enjoyed the friendship of a few close friends. Think about it, all Paul had going for him was the fellowship of the believers, the gospel story (including the Old Testament scriptures) and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
Today we plant churches with huge budgets and elaborate strategies. But money drains quickly and strategies fail as soon as the troops hit the beaches. It would be wise to learn that while we can’t rely on systems, we can rely on the Lord who promises to meet all our needs according to his riches and his Son.
Do you have a story similar to mine? Did you hit bottom before the Lord chose to teach you to “abound?” Please describe your experience in the comment box below. You will bless someone…