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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Church Plant in Carthage

We have a new opportunity in our life. We are planting a new work in Carthage, MO. (Rescue Mission)
We left our home town in Missouri, new home and one of the best churches in America to come to Carthage by the way of taking the Precious Moments Island. We turned it into a place for Pastors to come and rest. Through a lot of distractions and challenges, God has openly confirmed that we are to start a work for a group of the sweetest new believers as well as some leaders. Now with that comes a million thoughts. Journaling comes easy for me, although I am dyslexic, it becomes more difficult to write it out like I always would like. Thank God for spell check! Here is the condensed version of our experience in planting a new work.

Recently we attended and was accepted in the ARC program for church planters. In one of the sessions they gave us this book to journal all the amazing miracles and open doors along the way. I want to do that.  You can join us along the way as you read about the struggles and victories in planting a new work. The title where you will find updates will be under ARC, Church Plant and Launch Team.
Let me catch you up. 
We did not come in, cold turkey, into this community with not knowing anyone. That is a whole 'nother level! We took a dysfunctional church ( all part of a huge family, friends of that family or married into that family)with a history of trouble. So, when the Jezebel called the District( it was to his own defeat) to attack us while we were away on vacation...it opened up the door for the history of this church to be investigated. The District had stacks of notes of concerns about this church over the years. The District was such a great asset in navigating through this process. I can't began to tell you how they have tried to come against us after they all left, along with many others. How they would badger, exaggerate, lie to anyone who was connected to us that they knew. That was nothing new for them it was part of a long history. They would not leave our precious people alone! Through the whole process only two families out of many families that left, left right. There were so many families that left wrong. Some left screaming and yelling as they went. Some just never showed back up. Some just texted and said they were leaving after swearing on their life that they would stay and help through the process. We saw what they were really made of.  I guess they didn't have the guts or integrity to come face to face. Some started churches by taking our people with them. Even though we felt they really were not ready.We did not bless them to take a large group of people with them to do it after all the church had been through. (Whole families, and staff members) God used this whole thing to lay the ax at the root of the tree and take down something that was built wrong and had hurt so many of his children and other pastors/ ministers throughout the years. After everyone left, it was  Through a prophetic word at the Covenant Church conference( Mike Hayes pastor). God shut it down!

We have forgiven them all.  We began to pray, God if you are done with us and we came to pronounce judgment on them, then we are ok with that. But if he still wanted us here and was not done with us in this area then sell this building in less than three months.  He Sold the building in less than a month. We transitioned with around 45 people into our home. We continued to put them on a growth track while they transformed into a launch team. Praying every step of the way. Some of them were baby Christians and to leave them would be devastating for their spiritual growth. I remember not feeling like I had what it takes to continue on to do this next calling and was just kind of questioning God...Where he was in all of this. I had just told my husband that morning, I said, Where is God? Why doesn't he have our backs? We have been faithful and did everything according to what he wanted us to do. I said, If I had have done that to my pastor my wells would have dried up. My mouth would have frozen. My children and houses would be gone. The blessings would no longer be...I don't see that happening to them. ( not that I wanted anything bad to happen to them) Where was our defense? That day I went to get a rental car for a trip we were taking to Texas. As soon as I got into the car and turned on the radio the man said" So you are wondering where God is in all of this? Sometimes we ask God Where are you in the middle of the mess. I have something to tell you God never promised you ministry would ever be easy. But, by and by it will all be worth it!" He continued to talk about what all Paul had to go through in he ministry, but how he counted it all as joy.
That was enough for me! He did know where I was and he did understand.

In life unexpected, unwelcome, uncontrollable & unavoidable storms will hit. But never forget this: though you can't prevent storms you do have the power to choose how you weather them. Lisa Bevere
So we started a new church plant with those 45 people and it began to grow then shed, then grow again. That same process continued as God grew his precious people until they could stand on their own.

 One of the prophetic words that day has rang true and proven over and over again. He said anyone that was connected to their past would not walk into the future with us. I have watched God remove person after person who was part of their past. I also watched as he removed people who did not have the same vision. Not everyone who walks with you will stay with you. THATS OK. Some will sign in pencil, Some will sign in ink and others will sign with their life. We loved all of them. Those who could not plant with us, we blessed them to find something more traditional.  We have learned so much through this whole process. God sent new team builders that was headed in the same direction as we were going. They got us and they were qualified!
We started Life Groups on Wednesday nights. There was an amazing  bond that grew from that as we all met in different homes together. Many grew so much spiritually.

We outgrew the house. God opened up an Insurance community room for us.
No one had any titles, we were all just Christians meeting to grow in Christ and in Connection.

 We continued to walk in all we knew to do in allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us. There were financial blessings, protections and connections that was given to us. God used the Assembly in the relaunch program to be a blessing to us in their love, training, financial and team support.
 God still continued to transition people who did not have what it takes to start a new church, onto other churches. We love them all! Still friends with many of them today. He began to bring people who did have what it takes.
We have done so many things right yet now as we have learned through ARC, we had quite a few things to change. One of those was Shut it completely down! Don't have church services before the launch of the new church. Or we create Consumer Christians. DNA that must be caught is about giving of yourself!

God began to open up extra financial blessings for many things on our list to start the new church. He blessed us with a school to launch in. He provided  a large cargo trailer to put all the sound equipment in to set up for services. Things began to change so much after being trained by ARC in San Diego California. We stopped having services on Sunday. We would have mission trips. We would go on picnics or just have BBQ's. My husband was even so bold to say if you do not feel that you can not contribute and need to always be fed without feeding yourself spiritually through out the week on your own then you will have to find another church.  We need people to drop all past traditions of what they think church should be. If you need to be propped up, have any picky negative attitudes, or critical DNA then they had to go or repent and change. We had to shift traditional thinking and throw away old paradigms. Shutting the church down all together was a challenge. People did not understand that they could no longer be a part of a church until launch day. Some could not get the old traditions out of their head. 

One of the biggest things that really encouraged us at the ARC program was listening to their stories of what all they went through and what kind of teams they had to launch with. Seeing their success was encouraging.

There was a million details in starting a new plant/saving a rescue mission. But the most important is Prayer!
Winning the battle in the Spirit before you do anything else is amazing. Before we launched we all went on a 21 prayer and fasting. 
Our greatest challenge was not knowing if it will work or not. Do we have what it takes? Do we have the energy both in body and marriage to take on this great task after all that we had been through? Every thing we thought we knew about church planting we had to erase. It was a whole new ball game. It stretches you to the max.
I really didn't know what my part was a pastors wife. I had in the past done it all. Worship, Kids Church, Women's Director and so on. I was really struggling to find what it was. I was struggling  to know exactly what to do and which one of the four pillars was I to lead. Once I found the answer the strength and excitement came back to do ministry again!
One of the things to follow in the ARC network is not to start out with a group on Sunday mornings. That was hard to break. So we began the six weeks launch team training. We would have them in our home, we would visit other ARC plants. We had social picnics in neighbor hoods at different times and dates.
My husband began to feel the weight of all that has to be done so we hired one of our leaders for the summer to help with all the details. There was a lot!!! Every area of the new plant from signs banners, manuals, ministry descriptions, kids curriculum, lighting, sound to the music dept. had to be all organized and Top Notch.

God opened an amazing door for our new work through Jermaine Rodriquez. Worship Pastor for St. Louis Rock Church. He was such a blessing. Love their heart of worship and spirit of humility. God bless them is our prayer. 

They encouraged us as planters to take time off and get away. I did just that. I went on a two week beach trip with my mother while my boys were in camp. It was such a blessing. Where I felt drained completely from all the past, I was renewed. It was such a special time with my mother. One Sunday on the trip I found an Assembly of God church on our way to Colorside. We went inside and the message from that Pastor whom we never had met was..."Don't stay by the beach to long you have a Promise to go get." It was great timing for me.
 We covered Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North and South Carolina , and Tennessee.

The Billboards are up!!!

Post Cards are in!
Everyone took stacks and passed them out every day. We would blitz neighborhoods with these cards.

God brought together really quickly the finances, hard working faithful team, Promise Kids Team. What we struggled with was finding the worship leader. That process was extremely heavy. They had to be anointed for the position, humble, teachable, real team player and they had to know how to be relevant and play professionally with click tracks and stems and have recording media knowledge. We had only part time budget. Miracle you say? Yes! But God blessed us with a great guy from OCC. Kyle is from Colorado. He is such a blessing!

The whole band came together quickly in the last month. 

 We continued to baptize all new believers,  winning souls  and guarding our marriage and family time.

I wasn't bogged down with every detail like my husband was. One of us had to remain less stressed. My role was to encourage, be there for the boys and my husband, do any detailed job given and be the hostess to all the meetings in our home. I made a lot of art from my studio to help balance me out.

Creating the Websites and the logos. Austin and his company was the leader in all of the media and designs. He was the brains behind all the art creativity.

  Here we are taking our Team to KeyPoint church for hands on training. They all were such a blessing in all the information that we needed. They also donated 250 chairs. We send them a big THANK YOU.

  A supporting church for the final piece for us to become an ARC Church Plant was Life Church with Pastor Tim Estess in Siloam Springs Arkansas. He has always been a great source of encouragement and a good friend.
This week we had our first worship practice in our garage and at the school with a couple who tried out for the team.

21 days of prayer and fasting

Two week before launch we scheduled many practice services. There was so much to learn in the setting up and tearing down sessions. Everyone was great and worked real hard. They all had a wonderful attitude and spirit.

First real practice at the gym.

A few who tried out for the Worship team

Try outs

I was given the role over Promise Kids Student Ministry. I must say it was so fun planning and getting the team together. God blessed all the big and small pieces that had to come together.

 One week before launch there was 40,000 mailers that went out, along with newspaper ads.

Pics from the first three Sundays at Promise Church after launch.

Set up 


Our new Worship team lead by Kyle. Great guys, hard workers, with amazing attitudes.


Promise Kids

First service we had 7 give their hearts to Christ.

Scenes from our first year as a church. 

Life Church

For one year we had church in the School. God blessed and several peoples lives were radically changed. The small group that we started with began to grow enough to stand on their own.
We came together with Life Church, for those who wanted to stay, and on the Last Sunday in Sept. 20015 was our last Sunday as their pastor. It was such a sweet/bitter time. We love every single one of those precious people, but now they can continue as God leads them. It was not his will to build and continue here as their pastors. We both felt it. Before we both collapse in complete burnout, We both heard the still small voice of God. There were so many signs. We both came into agreement. Then there was an amazing confirmation that very week.( more about that later) There were many that were sad and disappointed. But nothing we do for Christ down here is ever in vain. We have seen hundreds affected for the Cause of Christ. Life Church will be a great place to continue to go after the Promises of God. These  precious people have learned so much. Their walk with God will always seek more by what they have experienced. Not our will but thy will be done. ( there were others that went on to other Assembly of God Churches) We blessed them all to find a place to grow. For all those who have stayed at Life Church with such a great attitude, you could not have a better pastor and wife. The Walshes are amazing people. We have known them for over 25 years. Outstanding Couple. God has led them into deeper waters. They now fully get GRACE. They will lead with excellence. For those who are now attending North Points new Campus in Joplin We love you and pray God continues to grow your lives fully in him. Thank you all for your vision, hard work, faithfulness and hunger to do something for God. Now your ready! You have been trained. Just keep a great attitude and let peace follow you in all you do.
We often do not understand Gods ways but we continue to seek him and go after him always. We thank God that our life's training in both churches these past 6 years have given us so much to bless other pastors with. Wow! is all I can say. We have learned so much. Our ministry pantry is full. We are now taking a complete sabbatical for a few months resting, healing, family, traveling and just soaking in God's word. After that....... Tour of Life.....here we come!!!!!