A WORD FOR THE CHURCH PLANTER WHO IS DISCOURAGED…

PSALM 126:1-6: “A Song of Ascents. When ADONAI restored the captives of Zion, it was as if we were dreaming. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with a song of joy. Then they said among the nations, “ ADONAI has done great things for them.” ADONAI has done great things for us —we are joyful! Restore us from captivity, ADONAI, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow in tears will reap with a song of joy. Whoever keeps going out weeping, carrying his bag of seed, will surely come back with a song of joy, carrying his sheaves.” TLV

OBSERVATION: Harvests in life are not automatic. They take courage, hard work, and perseverance – in the Lord. There is nothing that can teach this principle better than church planting.

This Song of Ascents recounts the heart of the children of Israel who were released from their captivity under King Cyrus of Persia. This ragged tagged team of Israelites were filled with joy unspeakable at the new opportunity that lay before them. How miraculous it was that the Lord had moved the heart of this Gentile King with favor toward God’s chosen people.

This is the same joy a church planting pastor has in his or her heart when God opens the door of opportunity to start a new church, gather together a new congregation, and believe the Lord for the impossible to happen. No church planter begins with thoughts of failure. Their world is filled with hopes, dreams, vision, and an ignited faith in God.

However, along the way this ignited faith is challenged. Rarely is it that these hopes, dreams, and visions are accomplished overnight, or without challenge and difficulty. There is an enemy in the desert that is waiting to prey upon each setback, each disappointment, each misunderstanding. When one member of the team leaves it feels like the world is coming to an end. Did we miss God’s voice? Are we really in the right place? We begin to question everything.

I have been involved in four church plantings in my life. Two that were successful, one that never got off the ground, and one that I assisted with but which did not last after the first pastoral change. In all of these endeavors I have experienced this roller coaster of faith, excitement, difficulty, disappointment, and despair. Yet, I have learned the secret of pressing through from these experiences and my failures. The key to successful church planting (or any endeavor in life) is not a seminar, it is not the perfect ministry team, it is perseverance through prayer!

  • “Those who sow in tears will reap with a song of joy. Whoever keeps going out weeping, carrying his bag of seed, will surely come back with a song of joy, carrying his sheaves.”

When we came to Weatherford, Texas to restart a church that had been closed, we did not know a soul. And we soon learned that no one wanted to be a part of this new work. We had sold our home, moved from San Antonio, and every hope of a remnant who would begin with us soon vanished. All of our hopes, dreams, vision, and faith was quickly challenged.

I never have worked as hard as I did to prepare for our initial launch on Easter Sunday in April of 2003. I walked neighborhoods, did mailers, set up a booth at the local trade days, prayed, and then prayed more. On Easter Sunday we had 35 people. It was far less than I had envisioned. And over the next few weeks it dwindled. One Sunday I thought it was only going to be my wife, my daughter, and myself. That Sunday there was a total of 7, including our family, and we sat around a table to have church. Had I missed the Lord?

I am now beginning my 15th year as Pastor of The Fellowship at Weatherford. In those years I have learned that nothing happens without sowing and weeping. We weep over the vision that God has given us. We weep during the times of setbacks and disappointments. We weep on our knees before the Lord crying out for His presence. And as we weep we also keep sowing. We never stop sowing. We keep reaching out. We keep preaching with all our heart. And we keep loving people and calling out God’s great potential in their lives.

We are not a large church, but we are a healthy, dynamic, and growing church. What once was just a handful of people has become a household of faith. It is the Lord’s doing. It is His harvest. When we sow and weep – He brings the harvest.

The children of Israel were coming back to a land that had lay dormant for decades. There was no harvest waiting for them. They would have to sow and wait a year for their first crop. And their first crop probably wasn’t a bumper crop. Yet, they new that if they sowed in tears they would reap in joy. God is the God of the harvest. His Word is filled with validations of the principle of sowing and reaping. If God has called us, the only way that we can fail is if we fail to sow, if we fail to pray, if we fail to weep. Weeping may endure for the night, but God is a God of joy in the morning.

So, to all the church planters in the trenches, I honor you! I encourage you to keep praying, keep weeping before the Lord, and never ever stop sowing. God has called you to sow. He has sent others to water. Yet, in all the sowing and watering with your prayers and your tears – remember – it is only God who brings the increase. And He will, in His way, in His time, and for His glory!

So be encouraged today. You are right where you are supposed to be. God has called you. The good work He has begun in you, He will bring it to pass. Don’t look at the desert. Expect God to bring streams in the Negev to usher in refreshing and to sustain you as you persevere. His promises are sure.

  • “Those who sow in tears will reap with a song of joy. Whoever keeps going out weeping, carrying his bag of seed, will surely come back with a song of joy, carrying his sheaves.”

In Jesus Name!

About Kirk's Devotional Journal

Kirk L. Zehnder is pastor of The Fellowship at Weatherford, a Foursquare Church in Weatherford, Texas. He has developed an easy to follow program to Read, Reflect, Pray, and Journal through the Bible in one year called L.I.F.E. Unlike other programs there are no dates to follow. You can miss a day and still complete your reading. You never feel like the dates and verses you missed are chasing you. You are free to enjoy your daily Biblical journey and listen to the voice of The Lord. For more information please send an email to klzehnder@aol.com
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