It's reassuring when you read something in God's Word that you sense is giving direction to your current life circumstances...even when it's not necessarily what you want to hear. The dust is now settling from a very busy year of transition. This year we've sensed God's direction and promise that He has something planned for us around church planting in Auckland, but we haven't known many of the details. So now we're slowing down, finding our footing while we plug into Shore Community Church, and straining to hear what God is saying to us about the timing of our next church planting season. Over the past week or so, we've come up to a bit of a crossroads in our church planting plans and this is the message we've clearly heard from God:
Our current circumstances, godly counsel, and these two scriptures in particular have led us to this conclusion:
"We're in no hurry, God. We're content to linger in the path sign-posted with your decisions. Who you are and what you've done are all we'll ever want." Isaiah 26:8 (MSG)
"But those who wait upon the Lord get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles. They run and don't get tired, they walk and don't lag behind." Isaiah 40:31 (MSG)
While we're eager to know the details of our next church plant like...yesterday, it seems that God is stepping in and asking us to rest in Him first. At the end of the day, if God is asking you to wait, you wait. If He wants you to rest in Him, you rest. It's good to be reminded that God is the one who has always been in control of our plans and that He cares for us deeply.
In the meantime, our first couple of months of ministry at Shore Community Church have been good. Nate's role in the worship ministry is beginning to take shape and he's been getting a lot of positive feedback from the staff and the church members at Shore.
A Bit About the Kiwis (New Zealanders)
Much like the USA, New Zealand is a multi-cultural, post-modern, post-Christian, first-world nation. The intensity of these elements in New Zealand society are perhaps much greater in this island nation due to it’s small size and close proximity of people groups. The city of Auckland is an extreme example of such concentration. There are more people groups in this city of 1.5 million than there are countries in the entire world. The city is now more diverse than London.
The post-modern way of thinking (i.e., “what’s true for you isn’t necessarily true for me;” the assumption that there is no absolute truth) makes it very tricky territory for church planters. Our goal is to plant churches that focus on creating laid-back and non-threatening environments where post-modern thinkers can explore a biblical faith in Jesus Christ. Quick conversions and fast church growth are rare in such a society. It takes a long-term commitment to relationship building to see disciple-making fruit in New Zealand, but when it comes, true disciples are born. Other barriers to faith include the busyness and materialism that comes with the culture of most first-world western nations, and Auckland is no exception. Pray for us as we work to plant culturally relevant and biblically faithful churches in New Zealand.