Starting a church is not an exact science. God has blessed the feeblest efforts of good men while other church planter’s best plans have failed. When I look back at starting Central Baptist Church in 1975, I have to admit I made many mistakes, yet the church was quickly established and God blessed my feeble efforts.
I remember speaking to some young men in Bible college several years ago about church planting. I described, as best I could, the lessons I had learned through my experiences and after I finished speaking the teacher of the class pointed out something in my lecture that has stuck with me since. He said you just told everyone not to do what you did to start a church and that everything you did was all wrong. Yet you were successful in getting the church started. His point was well taken. These young men needed the one thing I failed to mention; I stepped out in faith.
It is amazing that God could use any one of us but He chooses to honor those who step out in faith to do His work. As I reflect upon those early days there were many things that could be pointed to that would have kept me from starting when I did. First of all, I was too young being only twenty-one years old and in addition I had only been saved two and a half years. Also, I was newly married and my wife and I left for Connecticut without financial support. This was during the Arab oil embargo and the nation was in turmoil facing significant economic issues. Adding to my disadvantages, I planned the first service on Memorial week-end when most people are away on vacation.
I could list many more bad ideas and problems but one big positive part of the plan was my wife and I stepped out in faith and followed what we believed to be the Lord’s will. After four weeks of visiting, we held our first service and sixty-nine people attended. As I reminisce of our beginnings, I have to admit it was the Lord blessing in spite of us. We received many blessings from that first year and on our first anniversary we achieved our attendance goal of 301 people. Some of those attending that first anniversary still faithfully attend today.
I know there are better decisions that could have made life easier and perhaps made the church plant even more successful but we could not have done it without living by faith and following the Lord’s leading. The greatest need today is not financial support, though it is helpful and I recommend it. The greatest need is not organization though it is important to be organized. The greatest need is not a team of supporters helping blanket the area with the gospel. The greatest need is for a young man and his wife to step out by faith in obedience to the calling of God! The one prayer request of our Lord was for pray for laborers in the harvest.
Over one-hundred year ago an ad was placed in a local paper of England by Ernest Shackleton. It stated, “Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in event of success.” Men responded and a dangerous expedition to the South Pole was launched. I must ask, where is the spirit of adventure for Christ? Who is willing to step out in faith not knowing the end result? You may make many mistakes but God blesses the man who steps out in faith.