Yeah, don't plant that church!
I was in Fort Myers today and my normal routine for a study day is to find a Starbucks, get a cup of coffee and sit down and push through message prep. Except for this time, the Starbucks that I normally go to was closed for a remodel. That meant I need to find another. That didn't work. Then another. Then as I pulled into the third Starbucks, I realized something. "This is the place where ____________. Yeah, this is the place where I had that meeting from hell." OK, maybe that is strong, but let me explain.
This was the location over 2 1/2years ago where I sat down and had a conversation with a person about planting Turning Point Church. I did that a lot before we launched. I talked to business leaders, Christians, other church plants, pastors and close friends. I wanted to bounce some ideas off of others, ask for prayer, and gain some more wisdom of what God was already doing in our hearts. So, this was one more of those meetings.
I have to say, it was the most difficult, challenging and discouraging meeting I had leading up to our decision to plant Turning Point Church. The bottom line? This person told me; 'YEAH, DON'T PLANT THAT CHURCH!' As I sat there for nearly 60 minutes, I felt my soul deflate. I remember even calling Keisa who was back home on the East Coast. I was completely discouraged. I just went through what felt like a buzz saw.
It was interesting because as I pulled back into that Starbucks today, all of those feelings came rushing back. I even glanced over a few times to where that meeting took place. 'Look, that is where the table was ,right there'. Isn't it ironic how those places, those posts on social media and those encounters with people take us back to those moments? But I digress.
Life can be hard, can't it? Yeah, I can hear your emphatic 'yes'! Yet, it's those hard times that deepen, shape and grow us. We don't want those moments but we need them. Right now we are reading through 1st Peter and doing a series that mirrors the book. Peter challenges us as Christ followers to live 'different'. We are even called to respond 'differently' in the middle of the pressures, trials, and discouragements. Peter says it this way:
Peter is telling us that it's the tough things of life that prove to us the genuineness of our faith. Trials deepen our faith. Challenging relationships stretch the fiber of our character. The loss of a job pushes us to trust God more. Even meetings that deflate the dream you believe God has placed in your heart, test the metal of your faith. Trials show how genuine your faith, your passion and your call truly are.
That meeting was a meeting that challenged me to my core. It tested the genuineness of my call in that moment. Now, for the record, I'm glad I allowed that time to shape me. I also had other incredible meetings and leaders speak into this process. Yes, God knew what he was doing. But that Starbucks meeting, it shaped me. It refined some things inside of me.
As we stand at the edge of our 2nd Year Anniversary, I'm so glad that moment shaped me but that I had the wisdom to not heed that advice. I can't imagine NOT being a part of Turning Point Church. I think of all of the friendships made. I think of all of the kids who come to church excited. I think about seeing the brokenness healed in people's lives. I think of the laughter and the fun. I think of the thousands who have been served in some way. I think of the people who have accepted Christ or who have been baptized to demonstrate their faith in Jesus. God is a work in this community!
So, let's personalize this a bit for all of us with a question. What is it right now that is difficult for you? What is your trial? Your challenging meeting? It's possible that whatever it is, that it's shaping, deepening and testing the genuineness of your faith.