I have always imagined the work of church planting to be finite: a race that is marked by a start and a finish. Likened to Paul’s many athletic allusions of finishing the race, my mission as a church planter would one day find completion at a clearly marked finish line of establishing a church. How we imagine the race matters in how we run, wouldn’t you agree? I have imagined a church planter to be a sprinter and a pastor to be a marathon runner. I am not the latter. I was supposed to finish, but I cannot find the finish line.
As we approach the ten year mark of Crucible’s church planting and pre-planting journey, the Lord led us to establish church at the brand new campus of Trinity Western University in the heart of Richmond city centre. A world-class facility situated above a community center and surrounded by condo towers, this was the very vision we planted with. This became a reality only after almost a decade, where I’ve seen founders, core members,and even pastors come and go. In many ways, I feel we are back at the starting line, but this time I feel more inadequate with less fuel in the tank for the task ahead.
As I re-read and reflect on the many stories of God commissioning a servant into leadership, be it Moses’ burning bush narrative that easily comes to mind, or many others such as Gideon or Samson, it follows the same pattern of five stages:
1) A situation of distress or crisis in which God confronts the person
2) The commissioning of the person for some action or message
3) Objections raised by the person in the form of inadequacy for the task
4) Assurance of God’s help, often in the formula “I will be with you”
5) A sign to confirm the commission, often with the content of the commission
On October 16th, we held a Commissioning Sunday for Crucible, fully believing the Lord has a new race for us at TWU’s facility. Having moved so many places since we planted, I firmly believe the supernatural giving-to-us of this venue is a sign of assurance of God’s help. Therefore, I also believe more than anything in the five words “I will be with you”. After all, our race was always to gain Christ and to know him even when everything is lost. What I need to do is to run in a way that will allow me to finish the marathon. We all need to run to finish the race.