A few years back, I was serving a church I love as a college pastor. Some of the students in the college ministry were reading about the “emergent church”. It was a pretty popular idea, led by some gifted writers and leaders. As a pastor, I thought I should check it out. So I started reading. One book I read was called The Radical Reformission, by Mark Driscoll. As I read the book I was struck by the author’s commitment to stay in the Bible but get in the culture. He talked about guys with tattoos and deacons who ran breweries. It certainly widened the eyes of this church kid with Southern Baptist roots. As I kept learning more, I discovered the Acts 29 Network. (And I discovered they weren’t “emergent” in many ways, even though they were “emerging” many new churches.)
Up until this time, I hadn’t even considered new churches. I don’t know. I guess I thought there were already a bunch of churches. I was surprised that this network wanted to plant churches in America. I kept thinking about unreached people groups in China and India and Vietnam. But something (or, more likely, Someone) kept drawing my heart to learn more about church planting. I listened to audio teaching from the Acts 29 Network website and podcast, attended an Acts 29 Bootcamp, and kept reading about church planting. I was soaking in this overflowing passion for the Gospel to be planted again in the US. But my wife and I still anticipated serving overseas in a cross-cultural way to share the Gospel. That is why I was glad when my church in Texas sent me to eastern Europe to explore a partnership with church-planter equippers. It was a perfect mix.
In eastern Europe I met an older, wiser man named Pauly. His life read like Bible stories. I would laugh with the other men on the trip, trying to anticipate Pauly’s next story. Did he walk on water? Did he feed 5,000? In the midst of all of his stories, Pauly taught me something: life with God means loving Jesus and following Him - wherever that might be, whenever that might be.
And for my family, at that time, it meant moving to Omaha. And when we moved to Omaha we took a huge step into church planting by joining up with Core. I had learned that I wasn’t a lead planter, but I loved to serve a lead planter. In God’s providence, that is what Core was looking for. But, to be honest, it was a risk. We weren’t for sure where all the money for my salary would be coming from. We were moving to a new city with a totally different culture from the South. I would be serving a new church with quite different leadership than I had experienced. And I was transitioning from a church of 2,500+ to a church of 170 on a good day.
Looking back, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Serving in a church plant has been messy, but it has been filled with joy. My wife and I love it! Each day is different, and each new journey is packed with craziness. As a man, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Serving a young church who wants to plant more churches has been incredible. My hope is that it continues for years and years.
I am more convinced today than ever about the pressing need to plant churches in the United States...and among unreached people groups. Laid back Midwesterners need the Gospel. The academic elites in Boston need the Gospel. The football-junkies in Lincoln need the Gospel. The Berber in Morocco need the Gospel. And the emerging people in Montenegro need the Gospel.
So, may Core plant churches for the Gospel in Omaha. And may we be a part of a worldwide movement of the Gospel, planting churches across the globe. I am humbled to be moved by God.