Expect the Unexpected: Story Church Launches on Easter Sunday
On Easter Sunday, April 4th, Story Church in Northwest Arkansas LAUNCHED! Sometimes the third time is the charm. Our original launch date had been planned for September 2020. Because of the ongoing pandemic, we moved the date back to January 2021. Then we moved it again. The last 13 months has stretched our team and caused us to slow down and watch what God has been doing in our city and in the people that make up the launch team at Story Church.
Our team of planting pastors has a combined 37 years of church planting experience planting 6 churches, but just like everyone else, there’s no way we saw what was coming in March of last year with COVID-19. Now that Story Church has launched, and the dust begins to settle on the pandemic, here are some things we have learned that we hope will encourage you in your church planting journey:
Expect the unexpected.
Regardless of who you are, when you plant, where you plant, the size of your team, EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED. Church Planting is PhD level spiritual warfare and there will be unexpected curveballs and conflict along the way. For those of us who love five year plans, charts, spreadsheets, and graphs, this is really difficult for us. We crave predictability and process. So what do we do when chaos comes? We need to….
Slow down, watch and listen.
Honestly, slowing down once Covid arrived wasn’t an option — it was forced on us. The big area of growth for our team was learning to take advantage of the empty calendar space to really watch and see what God was doing and learn to listen to His voice in the silence. Like many of you, during the pandemic we were able to see what God was doing in our city and join Him in that work. In February, our church began linking arms with FOR THE LOVE NWA, a new movement in our city with the mission of fighting hunger, building community, and reducing poverty in our community. We do this by providing free meals for anyone in our community and bringing people from all walks of life and socioeconomic levels together for a meal. Those community meals have provided so many opportunities for new friendships and conversation. We also took inspiration from our friends at City Church in Griffin, GA and bought an old Fed Ex truck and converted it into an ice cream truck. We owe a huge thank you to Josh Abernathy and his team for helping us walk through the process and helping our dream become a reality. Our heart behind this project is to simply add value to our community, help people smile again, and help people move one step closer to Jesus.
Finally, if you’re like me, you may have felt overwhelmed over the past year and asked yourself, “Why am I doing this?…my pre-church planting life was so much easier!” If that sounds like you, I’d love to encourage you today. I’ve spent the last 18 years planting churches, and I can say without a doubt that church planting is the most difficult work I have ever engaged in, but its also the most rewarding. All of the worry, stress, headaches, and conflict is worth it for the lives that have been changed getting to celebrate when people begin to see Jesus for who He really is. That’s why we do what we do!
Jesus shared these words in Luke 12:
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.”
So be encouraged today! We get to participate in the Kingdom through planting new churches that will help people see Jesus! And we are reminded we are not alone, and no matter what happens, even if the world “falls apart”, Jesus is with us and we will be given everything we need.
Before joining the Story Church team, Russell Knight spent the last 17 years planting two other churches in Morgantown, West Virginia and Olympia, Washington. Russell and Belinda have been married for 26 years, and together they have two children, Ryan and Janna. Ryan attends John Brown University in Siloam Springs, AR, and Janna attends Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. In his spare time, Russell enjoys fly fishing, mountain biking, and watching Magnum PI reruns.