Investigate the Promise
“What did I get myself into?!”
I’ll never forget this thought that ran through my head at 6:00 am on my first morning of my church planting residency at Front Range Christian Church. I was putting up pipe and drape in the gym of Douglas County High School. Up until this point in my life, I had only been a part of established churches. Working in a church plant was a whole new experience. This moment clarified that God would use this residency to teach me some important lessons. Without these lessons there is no way the dream of planting a church would become a reality.
There is one story from the Bible that has been both comforting and challenging for Chelsea and I during this season. It’s the story of Moses sending the twelve spies out into the promise land. In this residency, we very much feel like we’re spies investigating what the promise of God might look like. There are three important lessons from this story that have also been pivotal things for us to learn in the first three months of our residency.
God invites His people to investigate His promise before God enacts His promise.
In Numbers 13:1-2, God clearly commands that He wants some of His people to explore the land that He has already promised would be theirs. Why would God do this? Maybe he wanted them to see how good the promise land would be? Maybe he wanted them to know how difficult a challenge the conquest would be and increase their trust in Him? Maybe he wanted them to have a dose of on the job training before seeing Him move in even bigger ways? Regardless of why God sent the spies it is clear that God invites those he calls to investigate before initiating a promise.
In a similar way, I’m so thankful for Stadia and Front Range to set up this church planting residency for us. It has given us the opportunity to get an up close and personal experience of the ups and downs of church planting. Planting a church is very difficult work, and to go in without investigating the challenge would be foolish. Getting to do set up and tear down, participate in staff meetings, preach on the weekend, and spend time learning the systems of Front Range have helped us evaluate and process what the greatest contribution to church planting is that we could make.
This season of being close to the area we’re planning to plant has allowed us more time to discern where God wants us to plant, and investigate what God is up to in that area. Just as God went before the Israelites into the promise land, God has gone before us and is working in the area He has for us to plant. This residency has taught us that this process of discernment over location is not something one should ever rush, and a residency is a perfect opportunity to prepare well in order to launch well in the right time and place.
God provides evidence His promise is good despite the challenge.
The spies who were sent out by Moses were terrified of the people they knew they would have to fight. I believe their problem was not with the reality of the difficulty, but with their perspective of the fruit God can provide. All the spies return with the fruit of the land and the message that it really does flow with milk and honey. Their problem begins when they let their perspective of the challenge become greater than their trust in the God who made the promise.
We have been able to gain a realistic understanding of how difficult the work of church planting will be. However, even greater than the difficulty we know is coming, is our confidence and excitement in how we will experience God. The way God invites people to know Him more is not through doing things on our own strength, but by trusting Him even more. Even though we see all the difficulties, we feel God has promised for there to be fruit through the planting a church in Denver.
God leaves the decision to act with His people.
12 spies went to scope out the promise land, but only 2 spies had a bigger vision of what God could do through his people. The tragedy of this story is that the 10 spies who couldn’t see the bigger vision of what God was willing to do swayed the action of the whole nation of Israel to not take God up on his promise.
Too many times God’s people have left God’s promises in the unfinished story of what “could have been.”
Unless churches pull together, we will leave the story of what God wants to do through church planting as “what could have been.” This residency has taught me that church planting is not something that God designed to be done by individuals by themselves. It takes a community of churches to reach new communities for Jesus.
God never forces His people to accept His promises or His blessings. This residency has given us the opportunity to investigate church planting and the city we might plant in. It has given us an opportunity to see if God is truly leading us to plant a church. It has set us up to make the decision on if we’re going to take God up on His promise or stay scared of the challenge in front of us.
We feel God is asking us, “Will you take the ground for the kingdom that I have prepared for you or will keep wondering around thinking you’re a grasshopper?”
We’ve investigated the land, we’ve seen the fruit, we know the challenge, and we couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to take this ground for His kingdom.
Chaz Robbins, along with his wife Chelsea, are currently serving as residents at Front Range Christian Church in Castle Rock, CO while investigating God’s promise of church planting in their own lives!Chaz Robbins