I've been in combat in two combat theaters, but church planting has been the most grinding thing in my life. It's also brought me the most joy.
So, if I had to sum it up in five words, I would say church planting is: grinding, joyful, mind-boggling, exuberant, and learning.
The kinds of things you see as a church planter are wonderful. I've seen young couples who are first-time Christians in our church, people going from unmarried to married, and people put down their vices. I've also seen people really get on mission with Jesus Christ, reaching out to their friends, family, and their culture in a real way. That's real has probably been the most exuberant thing to see in my life.
Grinding, Mind-boggling, and Learning
Ironically, every church planter wants to be the next Hope City, the Crossover Bible Fellowship or Church Project, the next big thing. They want to be the next mega-deal. But eventually, you (hopefully) get to a point in your church plant where you're like Paul. You become content with the work that God has given you. You may not necessarily be content that you've reached your community, but you become content in the work itself.
You begin to look at all the transformation that's happening in your ministry, and that brings you a peace that surpasses all understanding that Phil 4:7 talks about. That brings you joy because you're beginning to see fruit and you know it's fruit that's going to remain. You know it's going to be lifelong; it's going to be lasting.
As a church planter, I often tell guys not to get so caught up in the end number as you are caught up in the ministry, as you are caught up in seeing lives changed. For me, that's been the biggest thing, just seeing lives changed, families restored, and young people come to Christ in large numbers. That has been the most powerful thing that's happening as a church planter.
Bryant is pastor of Higher Expectations Church. He serves as a member of the UBA African American Ministries Team and has a particular passion for mentoring bi-vocational church planters and pastors reaching urban areas.