ST. JOSEPH, MI – When I excitedly stepped out to plant the The Shore Church in St. Joseph, Michigan, I set out with a call and a vision from God. That vision was skewed by many of my own ideas about church planting. At the time a special needs prom and a veteran's pantry were about the furthest ministries from my mind. However, these are ministries to which God has recently led us and through which He has given us opportunities to share the gospel. In 1 Corinthians 9:22, Paul said that he had become all things to all men so that by all possible means, he might save some (paraphrased). I may have had my own ideas initially about ministries that would grow the church, but I learned to be willing to truly apply the words of Paul and to be willing to do whatever could effectively administer the gospel. I have learned to embrace change and adaptability and the church has been blessed by it.
God placed on my heart the community of St. Joseph on Lake Michigan in the Southwest corner of the state. As Jesus called his followers out along the shore in Matthew Chapter 4, I intended to do the same along the shore of Lake Michigan. God had used me to grow other ministries and movements in the past, and I thought I would use some of the same ministry and outreach ideas to grow this new plant. To say the least, I turned out to be wrong. God is a creator, not a duplicator and He shows His power, His infinite greatness and creativity through His church.
Over the last 2 years, God has taught me the priority and the power of praying impossible prayers. He has taken me deeper in my faith than I knew it was even possible. I have grown in my relationship with Him. I have enjoyed and learned the importance of good connections with others who are like minded about the importance of church planting, who will walk with me and the people of the church plant; our sponsoring church in Monroe, the BSCM leadership and fellow Christians across our state and even some in Arkansas.
In some of Paul's writings in the New Testament, he mentioned there were some things he had to learn and there have definitely been lessons that I have learned too, but they were not fun. I want to be very real here so that others may be spared some of the pain that I suffered from making these mistakes. One temptation that I gave into on more than one occasion, was people pleasing. I can't think of one time things ended well. Any time you are people pleasing, you cease to be a God pleaser. This is not a good place to be. Next, I have given into the fear of man which has also always ended badly. Lastly, I erred in the thought that everyone was a good fit for the church I was planting, and that I could minister to and work with anyone. This also did not turn out to be true, good, or healthy for the church. I have learned many other lessons from church planting, but they can be summed up with this truth; I was called by God to plant His church and if I do it His way, with His book, following His leading, and using His power, the church will be exactly what He intends it to be. The only ability that God needs from me is my availability. It took praying impossible prayers for me to understand this important lesson, and I pray my story helps you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kevin Hester, Church planter of The Shore Church is also the Sending Team Leader for the BSCM and the Moderator of Southwestern Baptist Association.