By Barbara Sadler, Path 1 Associate
There is an area just north of where I live that I must pass through nearly everytime I have to travel out of town. It is always under construction (at least it has been for so long that it seems like always). Anyway, a couple of weeks ago as my husband and I were driving through the area, he pointed out one of the signs they have posted which read, “Construction Zone, Expect Delays.”
It struck me how much our faith journey is like that. We are spiritually under construction and despite our best intentions there will be delays along the way. There are times we are moving along rapidly and suddenly everything comes to a standstill. Life throws us curves that impede our journey, and we have to slow down and sometimes even come to a stop. However, experience teaches us that these slow downs and stops are temporary. We will get moving again, so we might as well relax and enjoy the journey.
Then it struck me how much church planting is like that. In “constructing” a new church there will be delays. Expect it! The group does not grow as rapidly as you thought. Some of the people you were counting on decide “new” is not for them. The property you had your eye on is grabbed up by someone else. A key band leader moves away. A grant you had counted on didn’t come through. Other area church leaders are antagonistic. The list goes on and on and yet the experiences teach us that in the end God can and will redeem every setback.
Church planting requires great perseverance as well as trust in the Holy Spirit. There is huge risk for discouragement (the enemy is constantly working toward that end). A key for the planter in not getting bogged down in discouragement is simply this, expect delays to happen. When delays are expected, they won’t throw us off track quite so much. When stopped along the road instead of getting angry and frustrated that things are not happening on your schedule, why not keep your cool and try to use the time constructively. Remember that we’re running on God’s time, not our own.
The next time you have to slow down or even come to a temporary stop, remember the road sign, “Construction Zone, Expect Delays” then relax and regroup. You’ll soon be moving forward again.
What have been some of the unexpected delays in your journey of church planting or faith in general? How did you use the time to regroup and learn?