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Get in my mind... and Pray with me

In church planting you set out with the perfect plan. Some who put the plan together have a short time to launch the church from the day the planter says "Okay Lord I'll go" to the time the planter says "Welcome to our first service."

For a fortunate few the plan lines up and a large gathering of people come together to enact the plan the leader has. From that point new leadership challenges arise and the leader busts his tail to get the best team around him.

For most church plants (including ours) the rush to plant proves too much and while a small church is birthed, it lacks the leadership who understand the Pastor's call and God's vision for the church. In our case it's resulted in a few cycles of people coming through the doors.

Then there are the best church plants from what I can tell. These are plants who take their time to gather the proper core, visit other ministries, really observe their target and become one with their community before launching out. These plants are strong in leadership before the first service ever begins. The leader is able to build confidence in his team and a cacoon has time to develop which will be useful later in protecting that team from the challenges and attacks of planting. Ultimately a launch of this church is MUCH healthier than the quick launch or what I call "parachute drop" churches. I honestly believe my friend Tadd's church, Pine Ridge Church will prove this planning and development time to be an AMAZING asset to any new church.

Well let's go back to cases like ours. We launched far too soon (I won't detail those reasons on the blog) and have taken a while to truly find our voice. I've had a very hard road when it comes to gathering leaders who understand ministry in our context and we live in a locale with relatively regular turnover due to the largest naval base in the world being in our back yard.
What do you do?

Well, you take the hand you have been dealt and you get to work. You don't complain or get jealous. You work. You work hard and you work often. You pray like crazy and ask God to bring the right people along. You invest in people and at times you watch you investment walk out over silly differences. You train men. You train men to be real men... not bullies or pansies... but real men who fight for personal holiness and against social injustice. You train these men only to see many of them quit when they are challenged. But you continue on. You do these things week in and week out.

Then at some point you realize you're coming past the infamous 2-year milestone. And you're still alive! Not only that, but your family is doing well... the horror stories of wives being angry and children being neglected don't happen. You're okay. The church isn't where you thought it'd be by now but you've made it this far.

So then you keep going, keep learning, keep teaching and preaching. Year 3 rolls around and you start to see fruit you've prayed for. You start to learn more about yourself, your community, your passions and God's plan. Your prayers change from God bless my plans to God show me plans you'll bless. You inspect your life and the lives of your church. You begin to stand up more forcefully against sin and lies wherever you see them. You're a different leader. You're more willing to stand up to wrongs and you're less willing to believe the hype in everyones book, website or conference.

In some cases you're jaded by the hype. You figure if a church planter wore a pink suit that a whole group of planters would arise wearing pink suits. You're more confident in God. You're aware that his anointing is on some great planters and you praise God for them. You thank them for sharing their stories online. You lift them up in prayer. You also wonder "Why not us? Why not here? Why not now?"

Somewhere between year 2 and 3 (if you made it that far) you question yourself like crazy. Not the normal level of a church planter but like constantly. You wonder if you are supposed to be in a different area, a different church, a different style. You seriously consider quitting but you know it's not God. It's fear or curiosity or boredom... but not God. So you stay. You stay and say "I want to see what year 3, 4, or 5 look like in the same place."

During year you pray... like crazy. "God, I'm spent. I need you and everyone around me knows that you are the only one that can make this thing bloom. It's your church, I'm done on my own power." Then some things happen. Prayers you prayed over a year ago start to get answered. You don't know why and frankly you don't know how but some new people come along. They are the people you prayed for. So you look around and see that maybe this thing can work if these people get the right direction. So you start over. But you notice a few things...

- You realize that you need leaders. You need people who understand what you're trying to build and are willing to sacrifice to make it happen. You can't see them among your membership... so you pray for them.

- You realize you need musicians. Since the beginning of the ministry you have had piecemeal music teams. You need a leader there. Someone who is nearly as passionate about God's church as you are but his/her talent is music, not teaching/preaching.

Pray that God sends us leaders. Leaders who know where we're trying to go and are able to see how their involvement lines up with God's plan for their life.

Pray for our people. Nearly every one of our families has had something I'd clasify as 'major' happen to them in the last 2-3 months. Deployment, financial hardship, death in family, sickness, etc. Our 'regulars' are hurting. We're ministering to them but it's been a rough road for many of our people. The mix of not many leaders and a lot of hurt has us in a bind right now.

Pray for God's wisdom, direction, guidance and power. We need it all.

If you know leaders in our area or if you know of musicians who may be interested in moving here to lead worship, pray for them and get them in contact with me. We don't have much but we'd love to have the right person who sees us as a good fit for them.

Thanks for your prayers.

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Monday, June 11, 2007


At 8:23 AM, Anonymous Ben said...

such a great post Tally. I'll be praying...

At 11:23 PM, Anonymous Jimmy Williams said...


I know you dont know me. Thats the greatness of the blog world! But know that God has sent people to pray for you! I have been praying for you for a long time! I pray for you and Ben and many others! I have a journal that just list planters names and yours is one that I pray over a lot! You are truly being used by God there and it is evident all the way in Texas. Thanks for your openess and your perserevance. May the Lord Bless you with your request!


At 11:34 PM, Anonymous Steve Markle said...

I am at year 5 in Northern Virginia and 100% relate to your feelings. Constant turnover, unmet goals and dreams, etc...yet God has us here and keeps us here and we see fruit from our work...just not as much nor as quickly as we expected. But God is faithful, our family is doing great...much to be thankful for. Thanks for the post. I'll be praying for you guys.

At 10:14 AM, Anonymous Jamie Limato said...

I found this post through BenArment.com. I just have stepped out in faith to begin the process of Church planting in Northern Virginia. I would love to talk to you some time and learn from "one in the Trenches". You can check out my blog @ www.jamielimato.voxtropolis.com or email @ plimato@adelphia.net. I praying for you!

i am not but i know I AM,
Jamie Limato

At 10:46 AM, Blogger Josh Karrer said...


I think we met a while back. I was a church planter at National Community. Thanks for the post and honesty. I have a couple questions to ask relating to where we are at in the launch process, while trying to glean some wisdom from you. email would be better. thanks.


At 11:12 AM, Anonymous Dave Anderson (moviepastor) said...

I feel ya. We are 5 years in here in a small town in North Alabama. Its been a long hard road - but we feel like we are turning a HUGE corner. Check out my blog and email me your story sometime. I'd love to hear more details and get some insight on your current situation so I can pray more effectively.

My Blog

At 12:39 PM, Blogger Donnie Miller said...

Wow, that's great. As we finish our second summer and will hit our 2nd birthday in September, I completely understand what you're saying. "Am I in the right place - I know I can't quit - God, tell me to do what you're blessing."
Thanks for your honesty.

At 12:42 PM, Blogger Donnie Miller said...

Wow, great post. As we enter approach our 2nd birthday in September, I completely relate to what you're saying. As I've felt like I'm pounding my head in the wall, God has been breaking down my pride and showing me what he wants to do through me and my church. I've shared the same thoughts, "Am I really in the right place, I know quitting isn't the right thing, I'm done asking God to bless what I'm doing and what to do what he's blessing."

Thanks for the reminder that the thoughts I have are 'normal.'

At 3:27 PM, Blogger Deneen said...

Great stuff.

thank you for bieng so honest. I'm par tof a church that just passed the two year mark, and as if scripted, we are experiencing what you have described.

I will be praying for you and your church. May God bless the fruit of your hands!

At 12:12 AM, Blogger pat gillen said...

Hey Tally, good words man. I agree completely. We're in an exact same position here.
Looking forward to seeing you at Powerplant this July.

At 12:22 PM, Blogger Scott Cheatham said...

*S* You hit me right in the heart my friend. Eloquent words and honest prayer requests. I will pray for you. We are in a similar situation here...Would you please pray for me? God Bless!

Scott Cheatham

At 7:24 PM, Blogger scott aughtmon said...


Thanks for the honesty. I feel ya man. We planted a church in Silicon Valley and we're going on 2 years and a half.

God's done amazing things, we have a great core of people, but it's been an up and down emotional roller coaster ride.

I've been meaning on starting a short blog series on what I've learned through the trials of it all and where God has brought us through it, but I haven't gotten around to it.

I think you just motivated me to start the series for all of us who don't experience the 100's in the first couple months.

I'll pray for you. I'd appreciate your prayers too! Bless you, your family and your church.

At 11:37 PM, Blogger brookshanes said...

This is what I LOVE to read: honesty without hype. We have a lot in common, and tonight as I discussed with my planting team (we're either 2 years in or 8 months in or just 3 months away from launch, depending on which group of core people you count which have come and gone!), I was looking for encouragement from someone who understood church planting. I am praying for you to find the people you need for your church.


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