“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” –African Proverb
I love this African proverb. It echoes my experience with Bloom and the relationships I have cultivated over the last 15 years with women in church planting. Certainly, there are times I want to go quickly but in the arena of church planting I want to go far. I want my reach to extend well beyond my current family or church. I want to weave a legacy for my family and the people God entrusts to our church that extends into the next three to four generations. I want to see change in family trees and in the lineage of the people God connects me with.
And I can’t do that alone. I just can’t.
If I try, I will wear out, burn up, and possibly fall away and be of no use to anyone. Paul says something similar to this African proverb in his letter to the Galatians.
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the Law of Christ.” -Galatians 6:2
When we connect with one another, when we listen to one another empathetically, when we encourage and build one another up, when we share our lives – struggles, joys, sins, triumphs, blessings – we are fulfilling the law of Christ. We are allowing God’s kingdom to come and be done on earth as it is in heaven.
This is why I love the ministry of Bloom. This is why I still come to the Bloom retreat, even three years retired from church planting. Because the bond of friendships I forged in the fires of church planting are strong and lifelong.
Ministry tends to be a lonely place, but for me, ministry in church planting was isolating and desolate at first (and I am so, so social. I need my peeps.) The friends I had left in the established church loved me, but they just didn’t get it. The new people God brought to our church plant were not quite friends yet, and nowhere near mature Christians. They would not have been able to shoulder the heavy burdens we were bearing; indeed, I found that out the hard way. I needed a community of equals and mentors to share my burdens with, to pray with, to receive comfort from, or consolation from, and even an occasional swift kick in the behind from.
These are the friendships I established in Bloom. Friends who were dealing with the same types of issues, eerily similar family struggles, mobile church struggles, volunteer struggles, and very similar enemy attacks. Together we were able to build one another up and allow each other to continue in the work God had laid out for us.
That feeling of community, the one we preach to our small groups and churches about. I want that intimate community for you. Bloom is here to meet that need, or stand in the gap until your church community can – if you can dare to give it a chance.
Anne Milam hopped on the church planting roller coaster in 2004, when she and her husband Dave planted OneLife church in Charlotte, NC. During their 13 years in Charlotte, she held just about every role imaginable in a church. Anne also served on the Bloom Leadership team for 10 years. Currently, Anne is on staff at Compass Church in Colleyville, Texas as a Junior High Pastor. She is a teacher, speaker and coach, as well as wife to Dave and Mom to 4 amazing kiddos. At the moment, her nest is half empty with two children in college and two still at home. To treat herself during this trying time, she drinks foaming coffee from her Nespresso each morning.