I’ve been part of church plants ever since I can remember. My dad took over as a pastor for a church when I was a toddler, but from then on church planting is all I have ever really known. Most of my friends at school did not go to church, and I know there were different churches out there—mostly because sometimes we would use their baptistery—but church planting was just normal to me. It wasn’t until later that I really got to see why it was so important. I knew in my school there were maybe one or two other Christians, but that never really affected me because I had my Christian friends at church. We live in Canada, so it’s natural to have people from different backgrounds in our schools. I was kind of the class clown, so I got into trouble at school on a regular basis, not for anything bad, just for being loud and silly most of the time.
The first time I remember making a decision between my friends and my faith was when I was in grade 9. My friends and I had just got into high school, and I remember they were starting to experiment with drugs, alcohol and sex. I knew that it was not the place for me to be because of one thing; I had seen too much.
That phrase came up a lot in my life when making decisions. Most Christian coming back to faith stories go something like: I went to church with my family, I got to a certain age or something happened in my life, and I didn’t feel like God could be a real thing. I left God; God came and won me back.
My problem is that when I got to that certain age and something happened in my life, I couldn’t use the excuse that God could not be real because I had seen too much.
When I was growing up, God stories were central in our home—not just some stories that could be explained away. My dad knew God was telling us to get a sound system, and he put it on the credit card with no idea of how he would pay it back. Meanwhile, someone in Texas sold a suburban and gave the money to the church in the same dollar amount, to the penny, that would pay off the credit card. God was present all the time. I knew I could not question God’s existence because I had seen too much, and because of that, I could not turn my back on Him when my friends were experimenting with different things. I chose to make new friends at school.
Honestly, church planting was not hard for me. Like with anything in life where there’s humanity involved, it wasn’t perfect. When people would leave the church, it was hard. It was one thing when people left because they were moving or they were fulfilling God’s call on their lives, but when people left due to pettiness or anger—especially if they had kids that were your friends—that was hard. It was hard when the people you considered to be family up and left.
I am currently part of a church plant in Toronto, and one of the coolest things to see and hear is that there is still a ripple effect from the church my parents started. People share their moments of coming to Christ, and had my family not been involved in part of the creation of that network that led them to Christ, they may not have become a Christian. My dad has been out of the position of ‘pastor’ for almost eight years but to see that residual movement, to see the effects on people’s lives because my parents said “yes,” is such a beautiful thing.
Being a daughter of a planter made me the person I am today in many ways. I believe in miracles; I’ve seen them happen time and again. It made me into a leader because I was on the ground helping all the time. It gave me faith. I know that you cannot inherit your faith, but I did not have to take those initial steps of faith that seem so terrifying; I was along for the ride and got to see what God did with those steps of faith, which in turn gave me faith.
I want to see my city saved by Christ. Being in a church planting family made, and continues to make me want to see the kingdom of God realized on this earth and be a vessel which He will use to do it.
To current church planters, don’t ever stop telling your children your faith stories. Don’t ever stop keeping them in the mix and allowing them to witness the miracles. Let them be such a part of your church, so that even if they are far away from their extended family, they don’t feel like they’ve missed any part of having a family. If people leave and your children’s hearts are broken, it’s ok. The real Comforter will bring on the healing. Just keep them in the middle of it all, so that they can look back and say that they saw Jesus work time and again, and they cannot truly question God’s existence because they’ve seen Him move. If they cannot question his existence, they will have to dig into a relationship with Him.
Published October 13, 2016