In this blog series, Jamie George will share his step-by-step journey to plant a church with The Mission. Here, he explains how God is leading him to pursue church planting even if it means leaving the boat behind.
We all know the story of Jesus walking on the water, even though we have no logical way of comprehending it other than the fact that our God is the God of the impossible (what seems impossible to humans). For many of us, Peter’s reaction may seem just as unreasonable. Even though he had never seen or done anything like walking on water before, he attempted what probably sounded crazy and scary to the rest of the disciples: He asked Jesus if he could step out of the boat and join Him on the water.
When I read about Peter’s experience, I saw a lot of similarities with someone choosing to cease serving in an established church to start a new one. Let me explain. Serving in established churches can feel like a very safe place to follow and serve Jesus, and if you’ve never left to go start a church from scratch, it might sound crazy or feel impossible to join Jesus in such an endeavor. But to some, the urge to go where Jesus is leading surpasses everything else.
Church planting became a real option for me in 2009. Earlier that year I worked with a church planting team and later that same year, I was hired by a Mission church in Denver, Colorado. The main attraction for me was that The Mission has an immense desire to share the Good News of Jesus and to make disciples, by planting churches that are “nourished by the three streams of Scripture, the Sacramental Life and the Holy Spirit.” As I bore witness to all the wonderful things Jesus was doing in the world to reach those who are drowning, the Holy Spirit beckoned me to leave the safety of my boat. Eventually I started to think about the idea of planting a church regularly, and a yearning to join Jesus out on the water intensified, even though it seemed illogical to many other disciples.
But God made it clear I needed more experience in ministry and leadership before moving forward. It was also a season for my wife to discover she was also called to church planting. God never calls a person when we are married; He calls the husband and wife (who are one flesh) for things like church planting and/or being missionaries. Through prayer and discussion, we felt the Holy Spirit guiding us toward that goal.
In the meantime, I continued to seek ways that I could obey Jesus’ command to “go and make disciples of all nations” while serving in established churches. But deep down inside of me, the necessity to step out of my safe boat and join the sent One kept growing. The Holy Spirit was constantly reminding me of the Great Commission Jesus had given to His Church, and a holy desire burned in my heart, mind and soul to reach the world, even if it meant getting out on the water. God used our last ministry in Colorado to really show us how well He uses us to gather believers and unbelievers to worship and make disciples. And we did consider planting there but it became clear that wasn’t the right place. I turned to godly men whom I trusted to receive wise counsel and God continued to provide for my family’s every need as we “sought first His kingdom and righteousness.”
Growing toward the goal
Even though Peter walked on the water, it took Jesus a few more years to prepare him for a lifetime of disciple making. I’ve been walking with Jesus now for 10 years. I too have seen God do many miraculous things in my life and in the lives of others since I started following Him in 2004. He continues to affirm His love for me as I spend time with Him; moreover, He patiently teaches me more and more about what it means to be a disciple who makes disciples in the 21st century.
At Winter Conference 2014 I sat down with Mission leaders, The Very Rev. Paul Sorenson and The Very Rev. Dr. Allen Hughes, and shared with them what God had been doing in my heart and the burning desire and vision He had given me to pursue church planting. They listened patiently and encouraged me to continue praying and preparing for planting a church, as The Mission finalized the best way “to raise, release and support leaders…to reach the lost for Jesus Christ in North America.”
Paul gave me some guidance and kept me in the loop about the progress being made. Allen took Joy and I through a Church Planter Screening that affirmed and encouraged us in our call to church planting, but also helped me see areas in which I need further coaching to better develop my spiritual gifts and leadership abilities. Recently Paul sent me a document that lays out the details for preparing and releasing church planters. It is great to now have a clear and well-laid-out plan to guide us in this process. One of the things I appreciate the most about working with Paul and Allen is their authentic love, support and prayers for us. It means so much to me to know they genuinely want to help us as we continue preparing to step out and partner with Jesus to reach the lost in North America. We know God will show us where to plant in His perfect timing.
I’m sure there will be days ahead when I start to feel like I’m drowning as I embark on a journey to do something I’ve never done before. Nevertheless, like Peter, I will cry out to Jesus for help, knowing He will pull me up so that I can continue to follow Him—stepping out to do what may seem impossible, but is possible with God!
Jamie George is living as a Missionary Priest in Whitewater, Kansas, with his wife, Joy, and their two sons, Breeson and Eagan. They are currently seeking where God is calling them to plant a church. Contact Jamie.