An update to our timeline in Auckland.
Today marks the first day of Spring in the southern hemisphere...hard to believe that winter is already over! We're looking forward to the weather getting steadily warmer, and the daylight hours stretching out past dinnertime.
Spring is a time of renewal and new beginnings, a time to feel refreshed and hopeful. In the spirit of the season, we thought we'd take this month to share with you some new developments that have been taking shape around here.
When we returned from our furlough a year ago (time flies!), we had planned to spend this year serving Shore Community Church via their worship ministry, while simultaneously developing a team to plant a new church with in northwest Auckland. Our goal had been to launch the church in 2017 or 2018. Since then, we've realized two things:
- It takes a long time to develop a church plant staff team. It's a big commitment - upwards of 5-10 years. And it's a job that requires flexibility, irregular hours, and a lot of patience. So we don't expect people to jump in straightaway; it needs to be a thoughtful, prayerful commitment - a calling. And those can't be forced.
- We're passionate about developing Kiwi (indigenous) leadership. We believe that a big part of why our Christchurch plant was successful was that it was led by a Kiwi - someone from New Zealand. It's not that we have something against Americans, it's more that we believe indigenous leaders give church plants a credibility and authenticity that takes an immigrant pastor years to develop. Unfortunately, as Christianity has declined in NZ, so has the number of people interested in training for full-time ministry. On top of that, many of those who do train for ministry end up working in secular jobs or moving overseas due to the high cost of living here.
In light of these two discoveries, we have come to the conclusion that our original timeline is unrealistic for our current circumstances. We are now reworking that timeline to look more like a launch in 2019 or 2020. This timeline would allow for some of our contacts to finish other projects, do fundraising, etc. In the meantime (Lord willing), we will be keeping busy with the following:
- Serving at Shore Community Church through small group leadership, leading worship, and mentoring other leaders
- Continuing BCounseling classes through Laidlaw College
- Serving/leading worship at events around New Zealand, such as the Student Life Conference and the Military Christian Conference, to do whatever we can to promote the development of indigenous Kiwi leadership
- Networking & connecting with other churches in the area
- Developing a team and vision for our own church plant
To be painfully honest, we're a bit disappointed. We want to plant another church...like...yesterday. But we also know that God's plans are perfect, far more effective than any plans we can invent. And we also know that sometimes He asks us to wait for our own benefit, for our own protection. And we're just gonna have to decide to trust Him on this one...even when it hurts.
This month we celebrate 14 years of marriage...we can't believe it! Time has a way of sneaking past you when you're busy answering emails and wiping runny noses. Between earthquakes, 3 children, and 4 major moves, we have shared many wonderful and stressful times together over our 14 years as a married couple. Many people have invested in us and our relationship during these times, and we are very grateful for that. We've always subscribed to the idea that while marriage can bring us a great deal of happiness, happiness itself is not the end goal of marriage. It's more of a byproduct. Instead, we believe the goal of marriage is to make us more selfless, more humble, more service-oriented...more like Jesus. We pray that God grants us many more years together, as well as opportunities to continue investing in the marriages of others.