FENTON, MI – “Fenton 6, this is Ironwood 6, prepare to copy, over.”
“Ironwood 6, this is Fenton 6, send it, over.”
“Fenton 6, we had 110 new contacts last month, spread the full Gospel at least 31 times, and had at least 42 follow up contacts with the intention of moving the relationship further, over”
“Ironwood 6, this is Fenton 6, keep charging the hill, be prepared to do more with less, keep the updates coming, experience more success, and keep your chin up. We love what you are doing over there, over.”
“Fenton 6, this is Ironwood 6, roger, good copy, WILCO, out.”
Anyone with experience sending a transmission in the military will recognize the above exchange. A subordinate unit is passing to their higher HQ (headquarters) a SITREP (situation report) while receiving the standard response to carry on, do more, and stay positive. As the most distant church planter in the state of Michigan in one of the most spiritually dark areas, this is how it feels sometime to submit the monthly report. I feel like a fighting element out front of the main body to draw and return fire so the main body does not get decisively engaged and pinned down. Does this capture the essence of church planting and is that even possible? Of course not.
Catalyst Baptist Church had its first service 3 August 2015. In other words we have been in existence under the umbrella of First Baptist, Gwinn and the Upper Peninsula Association for 17 months. It felt like we rocked 6-10 bodies for the first year. The last six or seven months it has jumped to 15-20, which feels wonderful and great. During that time, as a planter, I have experienced a couple of really good highs and a whole bunch of lows. In the process my ability and skill at sermon prep, vision, and delivery has grown exponentially.
Unfortunately, time and again, new Christians and old have ripped our hearts out over and over again. We see God actively working in member’s lives and they are experiencing that joy and Godly direction and freedom, but then some element of the old life calls and they answer that door and stumble. Walking with them in this process is crushing, because the path seems so clear and visible, yet the devil stays on prowling to tempt and pounce.
Is it all valleys and draws up here? It isn’t, but at times we seem to drop a whole lot more elevation than we gain. Two weeks ago I was praying God would bring all the men to our Sunday Service. This was something that never happened, we would get 1-4 of the 7 men any Sunday, but never all of them. I was feeling called to challenge the men to a deeper faith, but I needed them to be in church for the challenge. Two weeks ago, all seven men showed up just as I finished developing what I called a “Mighty Man” path forward. God had answered my prayer.
All seven men signed up to deepen their faith and be mighty men, our first meeting we only had one abstention and that was due to a medical issue. Things were flying high, and we were taking ground from the enemy. No doubt I saw that mountain thrown into the sea and it was great. The night of our second meeting, one guy showed up. What happened to that commitment? Only one guy honored his commitment and we dropped right back into the valley.
This is church planting. We have a long ways to go, but I am learning. Chin up!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ironwood 6 is church planter Ian Minielly. Living deep behind enemy lines at the Catalyst Baptist Church of the Upper Peninsula Association, Ian is making ground, doing the work.