Church planting isn’t for the fainthearted. I’ve been through quite a bit since September seeing New Antioch through its unexpected commencement last year in late September and through the challenges endured; and unexpectedly once again, immediately after Christmas.

Ups and downs, moments of excitement and periods of unwanted long-suffering have made this time quite abundant in lessons about the Kingdom and vibrant in how to “do” Church – as God wills it to be. Maiby and I have seen His faithfulness and provision beyond measure, to say the very least.

Now I confess the following:

At several junctures, I felt as if I had failed God, my wife and the congregation.

At various points along the way, I felt as exhausted as a pilgrim walking a medieval road and quite exhausted of “having it so hard”.

Through the days leading to the final decision to “replant” New Antioch, I felt it was best if I went shopping around for a church in need of a pastor and see if I could get hired and that would be enough to grant me financial security and “enjoyment” in ministry. I developed a “reasonable” rationale for why church planting wasn’t for me – at least in the way that it had “fallen” into my lap through the Church of the Brethren.

Through it all, though, God continued to open significant doors for me. PhD programmes, academic fellowships, journal articles to write and preaching engagements, too. So many opportunities and “big breaks”, and here I was feeling “left aside”, “marginalized” and perhaps… “overlooked”.

This is where my “experience as a church planter” ran diametrically opposite my life as a seminary professor. I have had the “dicha” – Spanish for “the blessing”, if you will, to encounter – on a first hand basis, the challenge of living out “theory” in the “real world”. I have grown more accustomed to the dissonance of living out the ministry licking my wounds and feeling “out of season” quite often. Perhaps I felt I deserved a better break than the one given… then one days I saw into the eyes of my wife and heard the words, “No matter what, you have everything… You have God, me and our kids”…

Then I saw into the eyes of my disciple-making students and heard my own words preach and teach everything contrary to what I was feeling…

God is amazing… although I felt tired, marginalized and ineffective, God took my brokenness and utilized it as a source of reflection, thought provocation and prayer. His redemption and restoration has humbled me and caused me to feel shame. How dare I consider myself ill used when my Lord and my God has purposed me to teach, guide and cause others to grow, mature and be nourished at a seminary, a bible study and an unorthodox Brethren “experiment”?

I am blessed and truly highly favored. Sadly, I only now get it. The blessing is what is yet to come…

Grace and Peace