During this blog series I’ve shared what I didn’t know about planting a church when I started the adventure to plant Vortex Church in Albemarle, NC.
Most guys who strike out to start a church come from a similar context to me: they were on staff at a church doing something awesome for Jesus.
It’s so easy to overlook something that’s obvious: when you’re on staff at a church you’re typically surrounded with significant relationships. To be on staff at church, the church would need to be larger in nature. There’s a large pool for relationship. From that, most church planters live in significant community prior to their transition.
That was my story. We had fully integrated into the community we lived. We had a ton of friends in our church and outside of our church.
I played kickball on a league in our city with a bunch of people who never went to church, and I loved it. I played golf with men from our church on a regular basis at their invitation. I had coffees and lunch meetings with people that I was mentoring and leading.
Life was full of significant relationship.
When you leave to plant a church, you leave that behind.
We didn’t fully parachute, but we definitely relocated and left our community behind (a parachute is when you move to a completely different city that you have no relational ties with).
During the first few months, I was excited. I was meeting new people, and heavy into the planning of our new church. There’s so much work to do in a church plant, that it often becomes consuming.
Half way through our launch phase, I noticed it creeping in: loneliness.
As we visited church plants and I talked with more experienced church planters, I asked one question about relationships: “When did your best friends show up to church: before you launched or after?” Invariably the answer was “after”.
That pattern was true for me, as well.
That means between the time you leave and the time you launch there’s a relational gap, and it’s easy to let the loneliness become a negative influence in your life.
Instead, I chose to do something that I honestly still must do…
I must find my most significant friendship in the relationship I have with Jesus.
Jesus, not other people, is always the answer to our loneliness. When we experience that relational gap, it’s important to allow the fellowship we share with Jesus to deepen. If you can’t do that, you’ll set yourself up to fail.
I love that Jesus makes himself so available to us… That we can find Him in God’s Word, and in that He still speaks to us every time we open it. I love that we can find Him in prayer whenever we need Him, and that we can have confidence in knowing our God and Friend hears us. I love that we can listen to His voice and become more acquainted to the whispers of His heart to ours.
I’m not going to pretend I got that right the entire time. For a season I felt the loneliness of the transition, and it wasn’t good for me. I’m thankful that God is patient.
Loneliness is a part of any adventure. If we don’t learn how to address it, it will always have the power to derail the progress we’re making.
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How do you overcome loneliness by leaning into your relationship with Jesus?