We moved our family back to Denton late last Summer to start Redeemer Church. Like any step of faith it has been scary at times, filled with ups and downs, yet we can conclude that it has been an amazing joy to be part of this new church. I praise God every day for the opportunity to be the pastor of Redeemer.
We are close to securing a location for our official launch on August 31st which has caused me to really get excited about the future, but also reflect on the past 10 months. I have learned countless lessons since we began gathering people last September. I certainly don’t have it all figured out, but here are a few of the lessons I am learning from starting a new church.
Redeemer Church is largely born through my walk with Jesus so my character and spiritual life are everything. This experience has only further solidified a deep conviction that character is what counts. We have all seen corrupt pastors, and I long never to be one. I firmly believe that churches who have leaders with suspect character are being built on sandy ground. Josh Yen and I constantly talk of the importance of our spiritual health. The new church can’t happen if I am not communing with Christ and loving my family well. I make daily mistakes in those areas and need a ton of gospel grace. This has forced me to be more humble and really live out our mantra of being “broken people who love broken people.” Planting Redeemer Church has caused me to love Jesus more than ever!
Planting Redeemer Church has highlighted the fact that I need to be a priest. That might be strange verbiage for some. One of the networks we are joining is the Acts29 Network. Within that network there is a culture of talking about the giftedness of pastors as being either a “prophet” (or insightful teacher/preacher), a “priest” (or a patient empathetic shepherd), or a “king” (a bold visionary leader). I have always felt that God created me in such a way that I was low in the “priest” department. But, if you are going to start a church you have to be a priest. One of my coaches keeps wisely telling me that most people will follow me if they know I love them. I have loved stripping things down and getting to genuinely just love our people. With joy, I can report that planting Redeemer Church has caused me to love people more than ever!
I have a twin passion for starting new churches. First, it is biblical. New Testament missionary work is exclusively people starting new churches. I don’t think that all missionary work should be just church planting, but it should be our primary way to reach and disciple the world. Second, is how effective it is at reaching the unreached. Many guys look at an area and think they should plant because there is not their brand of church in that area. At the end of the day I fear some guys are planting churches because they want their brand of evangelicalism as opposed to primarily wanting to reach the unreached. It is about reaching the lost not establishing your brand of evangelicalism. Please hear me, this is not a sellout to all things gimmicky. If you know me, you know that I have deep convictions. But, at the end of the day our people care that I am devoted to the Bible and the gospel, trying to walk faithfully with the Lord, and am striving to love them and their family. Convictions are vital, but our missionary conviction should be the ultimate driver of our efforts. Redeemer Church has caused me to love my city more than ever!