Mistakes in church planting: Joseph Velarde

By Joseph Velarde

I am a huge Atlanta sports fan, as I was born and raised in Smyrna, Georgia. My brothers and I who all live in the Allentown, Pennsylvania area now would get together to watch the Falcon’s march through the playoffs.

We would say, “ Wow, this Falcon’s team looks legit! I think they can go all the way and win it.” They made it to the Super bowl and looked like they would win the game, but instead they blow a 21-3 lead after half time.

Much has been made of this epic collapse and bad play calling. Everyone is saying, “just run the ball and run the clock out. You will win the game.” My brothers and I took this loss really hard, as did many other Falcon’s fans. We are still getting over it.

How do you get over something like that? How do you move forward?

Coach Dan Quinn and Quarterback Matt Ryan have watched the film over and over from that game. They aren’t avoiding the loss, but learning from it. They aren’t getting paralyzed and allowing it to divide the team, but rather bring them together as head into the offseason workouts and minicamps. We can learn a lot from them.

We all make mistakes in our church planting journeys. I know that I have made my fair share of them. Over the years one of things that I ‘ve had to learn is how to move forward with the right focus.

We can make decisions to learn and grow from mistakes, or stay stuck in regret. What choice will you make?

It’s so easy to replay the mistakes and become paralyzed with fear, We live and lead from the, “Would ‘ve, should’ve and could’ve” instead of the call that God has place on our lives. Satan loves when we get in that place and when despair takes us over. Thankfully, Jesus is in the work of redeeming mistakes if we will allow Him access to them.

You made mistakes, but you aren’t a mistake
Why does shame grip us to the core of who we are when we make a mistake? It’s often because we believed that how we perform proves our worth. Do you know that you are loved, known and accepted by Jesus not because of your performance, but because of His perfect performance on your behalf?

God takes pride and delight in you! We must daily say to ourselves: God the Father loves me and is well pleased with me because I am His son or daughter. He won’t love me less or more based on how I perform. Instead, I will look at the great and terrible cost He paid for me and surrender myself fully.

We aren’t meant to just know the information, but to taste the goodness of the gospel. We must let the music of the gospel sing over us. Have you ever seen someone just jamming out in the car? They’re hearing their jam!!! They can’t help but sing it out loud and break it down…that’s what I do.

Many of us though are listening to the wrong song. The jam we play over ourselves and meditate on is rejection, regret and fear. This song not only hurts us; it hurts those closest to you. It breaks your Heavenly Father’s heart.

What song is playing over your life, the song of being a failure or the beautiful music of the new covenant in Jesus?

Let your mistakes produce the BEST ministry
Here is what I have discovered over the years God is in the business of refining who we are in order to ensure that His work through us isn’t outpacing His work in us. He is more concerned in who we are becoming than what we are doing for Him.

Allow your mistakes to change your ambition to holy ambition. We can easily confuse the two. A shot of adrenaline is not the same thing as a move of the Spirit.

Honestly answer the following questions:

  • Where have you allowed your ambition to blind you? Are you doing more for Jesus than being with Him?
  • Why did you make the decision to begin with? Was it prove your worth and value to someone? Was it to just keep moving things forward, even if you didn’t clearly hear from God? How can you grow from this?

Repentance bridges the gap between regret and redemption. Our Heavenly Father wants to deepen our dependency on Him and develop our character. Not by means of despair, but through loving discipline. See Hebrews 12:1-13

The only way we grow in wisdom is to evaluate the good and bad moments of the church planting journey.

Process the pain with others
When we make a mistake it hurts. Good news, you aren’t alone! However, you will need to let others in. You aren’t meant to carry your mistakes alone. We are at our strongest when we admit to other our weaknesses and limitations. This means being vulnerable and allowing trusted friends in.

I used to try and always display strength. I would carry a weight that was impossible for me to bear. In the process I would rob not only myself, but others the joy of walking with me.

A natural byproduct to this is other people starting to share as well. I am thankful that God has shown me what gift it is to boast in my weakness. The more I tell my story of painful mistake, the more likely others will share. Give it a try.

I am thankful for the gift of community to do this life with. Who are you letting in these spaces? Don’t delay—call someone today. A mentor and friend. Make the time. We often feel that by slowing down it hinders progress, but the reality is by slowing down we move more effectively through the ministry.

God isn’t finished with you, hand over your mistakes to Him and watch Him work in and through you. The best is yet to come and He is just getting started.

Published May 3, 2017

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Joseph Velarde

Joseph Velarde is the Lead Planter and Pastor of Riverbend Community Church in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Riverbend is a Multiplying Church Center who has the desire to see God start a movement of church planting in the Lehigh Valley and around the world. Joseph has been blessed to have Amy as his wife for 10 years.