Where Will We Go?
I have been around church planters consistently for 10 years now and they never cease to amaze me. There are so many different adjectives that you could use to describe most of them; words like enthusiastic, entrepreneur, risk takers, highly driven, passionate and fearless come to mind. Where most leaders see barriers, church planters see opportunity. When the level of difficulty rises and the tension is to shy away, church planters lean in. And when fear grips the world because of a pandemic I see the excitement in every church planter to innovate and climb yet another mountain put before them.
All of us have had to adjust to the new normal that is living in quarantine. Everyone we know has had to make adjustments in their life, work and family as we have watched Covid-19 change the world. Most of us have watched more news than we ever have, scanned new information on social media and articles, and hopefully all of us have prayed for countless people around the world as often as we can. Normally, I find myself traveling across the Southeast meeting with different pastors and leaders, but now my days are filled with more Zoom calls than I can count. In the past four weeks I have talked with hundreds of different leaders who are pivoting to church online and creating ways to engage not only their church but their community.
Yet when I talk with church planters the temperature in the room changes. There is a sparkle in their eye and a nervous excitement in their voice to do something new and different. Their minds are going 100 miles per hour with ways they can influence and serve people. It’s almost like an adrenaline rush as you are getting ready for a big race. You arrive at the race, park your car, then get checked in. Your number is given to you and you make your way to the crowd getting ready to do what you trained so hard for. Some people are nervous, others are stretching, but you are watching the countdown with great anticipation. You are anxious (a good anxious) for the whistle to blow so you can show this course what you are made of. I see that in every church planter I talk to.
Church planters know we are a part of a prevailing Kingdom and nothing will overcome it. They believe wholeheartedly that this is just a moment to be seized and yet another chance to make the name of Jesus known. In any trial or circumstance, each planter looks at the gates of Hell and knows that there is nothing to be afraid of because Jesus has already won. They are waiving his banner unabashedly and unafraid because they cling to the promise made 2,000 years ago, “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me will never die.”
As I continually have conversations with different church planters, I am reminded of a question that one church planter asked years ago: “Where would we go?” In John 6 Jesus begins to teach a crowd of thousands whom he has just fed with five loaves and two fish. He explains to them that there is a food that will satisfy and last forever and he even refers to himself as the Bread of Life. He makes this statement which sounds really gross, “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you will have no life in you.” The crowd is confused, disgusted and unimpressed so they begin to leave. Not one or two, but thousands of people start to head home. Picture an outdoor concert where the encore has just played, and everyone is now leaving. Jesus and his disciples are on the stage (the hillside) watching everyone leave and they hear the grumbling and complaining about how hard this teaching is to accept. Jesus looks at his closest friends and says, “Are you going to leave too?” Peter, who was known to put his foot in his mouth, speaks up and asks an amazing question. “Where will we go Lord, for you have the words of eternal life.” This is one of the most profound proclamations in all of scripture. Peter knows there is no place he would rather be than living life on mission with Jesus Christ.
In every phone call, text message, and zoom meeting I have with church planters I hear the same proclamation. They know no matter what happens in the world or to this world there is no better place to be than with Jesus. There is nothing like loving others the way that Jesus loves us. There is no greater joy than bringing answers and hope to so many who have questions and doubt in this crazy time. I consider it an honor to be inspired by the men and women who are standing firm and leading all of us closer to Jesus.
Crockett, and his wife Natalie, have been in ministry over 18 years and they have been primarily focused in the Southeast region. While in college they served in churches in Virginia and Kentucky and after graduation they were full-time in Ohio and Atlanta. Crockett has always been burdened for churches to ” do whatever it takes” to introduce people to Jesus Christ. This led him and his family to move to Hickory, North Carolina and start Vintage City Church. Crockett has served on the boards of different church planting networks, coached multiple planters and is obsessed with helping the church live on mission. Crockett and Natalie have three amazing kids who are sold out to church planting. Crockett’s role at Stadia is to build relationships with churches and planters in the Southeast region and help Stadia plant more churches that intentionally care for children in the U.S and around the world.