Our fifth (and please dear Jesus) last child was born 16 weeks ago. By golly, if we can't grow this church one way, we will grow it another! Another boy. Of course. Cause that's all we know how to make. And he's precious and beautiful.
I was struck again by the beauty of the picture of pregnancy and labor being the illustration of creation waiting for the children of God to be revealed. And I still believe it's a better term for starting a church then "planting". What we are doing is not so simple as putting a seed in the ground and praying for rain. Though I don't fault Paul for his analogy of farming. He's a dude. What does he know about growing a baby?
But that's the exact way church planting feels. We conceived this idea, through no real skill on our part. The Holy Spirit quickened it and it began to grow. There were months of nausea and restlessness as we realized there was no going back, but also nothing to show yet. There was a fun season of beginning to really plan and excitement building. Then a seemingly endless season of sleepless nights, discomfort and increasing pressure to produce. Finally, through less than lady-like effort, we began life as a church and started meeting. And there was beauty and joy in that initial plunge. The first awkward weeks of gathering on Sunday, not quite sure what to do but just really happy to be doing it!
However, as with real children, the newness, baby-moon feeling wears off and you enter an interesting time of constant vigilance, dedication, and urgent care. Nighttime feedings and diapers changes have their place in the analogy as we had plenty of late nights nursing this infant church along and plenty of what can only politely be described as cow dung issues to clean up. And just so much of it required direct and intense care from us as it's "parents". So much more work than you really think it should take. And right in the middle of life happening all around us.
Now our baby church is 15 months old and that's about accurate for our analogy as well. Taking its first few wobbly steps without our carrying it. It's forming a new identity, not entirely dependent upon us, not wholly derivative of us. It's been fascinating and painful, rough but threaded with joy. I am immensely grateful for this honor of seeing Redemption church of Temple being revealed. And I know it really has nothing to do with me. This, after all, is not my church. This is Jesus' church. As head shepherd and Sovereign King, he is raising his church up. And it is beautiful!