Thursday, June 19, 2014

When Your Church Plant Fails

I started this post in August and was unable to finish it due to the raw emotion it drew upon writing. I'm posting it now, though it was unfinished, because I think it's important.....

A simple search on demonstrates a lack of instruction on this topic. There isn't a handbook that I have found that includes a section of what to do when your church plant fails, when your church closes under your watch, and how to begin again. I akin this feeling to losing a loved one. There are stabbing reminders everywhere we turn that life is very different than we had anticipated, and the only thing we know to do is to grieve this as a death, and try to start anew.

When my husband and I began this church plant, failure never was a possibility. We believed that the only reason a plant would fail is if we gave up and by golly, we could out stubborn anything. Like an unexpected death, we looked around one day and realized, our church was operating on life support and nothing could be done.

The self examination is grueling and I know my husband feels it even worse. What could we have done different? What did we do wrong? What training did we miss? What book should we have read? Did we not pray enough? Did we not lead enough? Did we not serve enough? Did we, did we, did we.

The last month has been painful. Excruciating. My tears are random; my heart aches.

Yesterday was the day everyone gathered to clean out the church building. My husband, walking through the church building alone and with it mostly empty, expressed an ache all over again. I have begun to long for the 'headstone' to be put in place so we can truly finish this chapter and move on.

Lord, Send me an Aaron

My most recent post was more than a year ago. As much as I wanted to use this blog to allow others into the fishbowl of a pastor's family, we entered a season where I truly could not trust my words to be public. I could not trust my emotions to be exposed as they were just too raw.

We experienced a grueling summer last year. It held countless disappointments, devastating betrayal, and gut wrenching emotions. By the end of the summer, our church voted to close and my husband was forced to go where he could find work - 2 1/2 hours away. I had been so excited to enter the school year without any plans to move or babies to be born so we could have an amazingly awesome school year, and instead we started with only seeing daddy once a week, no vehicle while he was gone, inadequate meals, depression, and uncertainty. Eventually the children and I moved in with my parents to be closer to my husband - only an hour distance at that point - and a few more months later, we moved back to Indianapolis where we lived before the church plant. The amazingly awesome school year I had planned was a struggle with 2 moves with a season in between, a demonstration of love by so many around us who embraced us and held us up when we couldn't stand alone, extreme sadness, and major effort to just get basic book work accomplished. If I knew the year we were entering at the time I wrote the last blog on this page on May 30th, I would have been shocked and wouldn't have entered it any way except kicking and screaming.

I would have never wished to enter this last 12 months... it was absolutely the most trying season of our family to date. My life verse that I recited many times each day was this, 2 Cor 4:8, "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed." We were crushed. Devastated. Depressed.

In this season, we saw God provide in so many ways and we also saw times where God did not provide in the timing and way we believed was necessary, but we learned to trust God through it all.

I became so captivated by the story of Aaron holding up Moses' arms when he could not do it anymore. We had so many that came around us to hold us up, help us out, support us, love us, encourage us, and listen to me cry in defeat. It has taken MONTHS of this to feel we are truly healing. I no longer feel the wounds are raw and bleeding. I no longer cry for the subject to be mentioned. We are healing - His grace is enough.

We are in a season of rest. My husband is entering the process of serving as lay elder in the church where we served before our church plant. We are finally stabilizing financially to the place where we can pay all our bills on time AND buy groceries - not something that we take for granted now!!

We have a thriving home business now and are looking forward to using that business to pay off our debt and increasing that income so that when the time comes for us to enter back into ministry full time, we'll be able to do it truly with open hands and serve wherever God leads with the financial stability for our family in place. We long to bless others the way so many blessed us.

God sent us an "Aaron" and He carried us through a very dark valley. Our marriage is stronger and our relationship with our Savior is as well. I can now actually say that I'm thankful for the things that we learned through the process though I would never wish to live through it again.

Praise God for the faithful that He chose to bless us and serve us and for His faithfulness and grace <3