Stories of doubt from an apprentices’ perspective Send Network: Tell us about the church you are planting later this year. Kent Bateman: We’ll be planting City Church in downtown Knoxville, TN. Currently, we’ve got about 30 team members at various stages of transition between Columbia, SC and Knoxville. The plan is for all of us to be living in the city by August 2016. SN: How has doubt affected you through the process of planning and preparing for this new venture? KB: Most church planters I know deal with doubt of some sort, myself included. There’s hardly a week that goes by where I don’t ask myself some version of the question, “do I have what it takes to pull this off?” It’s easy with something as big as planting a new church, to constantly wonder if you’re actually ready. SN: What have you found to be the best way of dealing with it? KB:I try to go to the Bible and other believers that know me well and can be church family to me. When I go to Scripture, I’m often reminded that the short answer to the question, do I have what it takes, is no. But at the same time, God has a pattern of using the under-qualified. Honestly, Scripture takes root a lot faster in me when it’s channeled through other brothers or sisters to me.
Honestly, Scripture takes root a lot faster in me when it’s channeled through other brothers or sisters to me.
I remember, in the early days, wondering if I even had what it took to begin the process of planting a church. A central piece of me getting over that fear was having the other pastors on staff with me at Midtown Fellowship speak truth into me and affirm the calling to plant. They have looked me in the eye several times and said, “Sure, you’re still young. Sure, you can still grow in things. But thinking that you shouldn’t do it? You’re crazy man. This is what God has designed you to do.” Having guys that know you personally, including all your sin, speak that kind of Spirit-filled encouragement to you makes all the difference in the world. SN: Are you often tempted to compare yourself with other church planters while preparing for your church plant? KB:Absolutely. It’s easy to look at other guys that are further along than me, have more success than me, or just are more gifted than me and begin to either condemn myself based on their results, or imitate them and try to manufacture their results. That’s when it’s helpful to remember that God didn’t make me to be the next, fill-in your hero of the faith, He made me to be a faithful minister of the gospel. That’s it. Trying to emulate all of someone else’s methods without their gifts is one of the quickest ways to end up really discouraged, and I’ve learned that the hard way a few times.
Trying to emulate all of someone else’s methods without their gifts is one of the quickest ways to end up really discouraged, and I’ve learned that the hard way a few times.
SN: In what ways has God used your doubt to remind you to rely on Him? KB:As I mentioned above, remembering that my sufficiency as a planter, and just as a Christian in general, doesn’t come from within myself—it’s not self-generated. Rather, my sufficiency comes from something outside of me, from God Himself (2 Cor. 3:4-6). One of the most practical ways to remember to rely on Him is through relying on the team He has put around me. God constantly uses others leading with me to remind me that this isn’t all about me. If it were, He wouldn’t have surrounded me with so many others who possess gifts I don’t. Going lone ranger as a church planter has worked for some people, but I wouldn’t want to try it myself. I’m too prone to blindness, too easily deceived and just not gifted enough.
Going lone ranger as a church planter has worked for some people, but I wouldn’t want to try it myself. I’m too prone to blindness, too easily deceived and just not gifted enough.
SN: How would you encourage other church planters in your same position to deal with doubt? KB: Surround yourself with people who aren’t afraid to tell you the truth. Sometimes you’ll need that for encouragement, and sometimes you’ll need it to shake you out of delusion, or just knock you down a notch or two. Do everything you can to never find yourself making the calls all alone. Whenever you find yourself there, you’re just a few steps away from thinking you’re self-sufficient and competent on your own. Surprise, you’re not. That’s part of what makes the gospel good news—it only applies to works when you realize you’re not good on your own. Kent Bateman is a pastor and church planter currently serving at Midtown Fellowship in Columbia, SC. He will be sent out, along with a team, to plant City Church in Knoxville, TN in the fall of 2016. He currently lives in Columbia with his wife Ana and son Whitaker. You can follow him on Twitter at @kentbateman.
Published January 14, 2016