Church Planting, the 1st year …

Posted by Tiffany Cooper

… The spring of 2001 is forever imprinted in my memory. I graduated from college, signed a contract to teach at the school of my choice and furnished the first home my husband and I purchased months earlier in Springfield, Missouri. Life was smooth, goals were achieved and future dreams were being formed. Then everything changed.

While driving home from speaking at a ministry event, God spoke to my husband about leaving everything we had built to start a church. Before this night, we didn’t feel like pastoring was a part of our future calling. Although I was surprised, I felt really excited. From that moment, we began seeking God for his direction regarding this new adventure.

What did the first year look like? Here’s a short list:

  • Discovered our call to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Drove half way to meet with Brian and Alicia Rush (the couple that God divinely brought into our lives) about the future of our unnamed church. They are still with us 10 years later.
  • Moved to Oklahoma City
  • Officially named the church People’s Church
  • Lived in an extended stay hotel for the first couple months
  • Found a teaching job while my husband traveled and ministered across the country
  • No salary from the church
  • Began a small group with 6 people in attendance
  • Started preview services at a local hotel conference room
  • Had our 1st service in the AMC movie theatre on Mother’s Day 2002 (Don’t ever start on Mother’s Day!)
  • A mobile church with weekly set up and tear down
  • Uncertainty
  • Battles
  • Total Commitment
  • No turning back
  • Weekly visits to 1st time guests’ homes, small groups in our home, dinners with church families, lots and lots of hours of connecting with people each day
  • Many hours of Sunday preparation and developing children’s curriculum
  • Community Outreach
  • Exhaustion defused with excitement and hope
  • Rookie mistakes
  • Big learning curve
  • Discovered I didn’t know as much as I thought I did
  • Zealous and passionate
  • Totally dependent on God
  • Awed by God’s power
  • One of the most memorable years of my life
  • Privileged to have experienced my 1st year as a church planter
  • Proudly wear my church planter badge with honor

Church planters, I can guarantee one thing. Wherever you find yourself on the journey, you are not alone. Starting a new church is like riding a roller coaster for the first time. You hold on tight, feel a crazy mixture of excitement and nervousness and hope for an overall good experience.  There are ups, downs, unexpected turns and moments that make it all worth it. Then after it’s over you think, wow, it’s already over? My first year as a church planter felt never ending but looking back I think, wow, that first year went by fast.

Are you a church planter? Where do you currently find yourself on this roller coaster adventure?

(Join us again next Thursday as we continue our Church Planting focus with guest blogger Tricia Lovejoy.)

17 thoughts on “Church Planting, the 1st year …

  1. Andrea Worley

    my husband and i have been apart of two launch teams for church plants, and while although we’re not the lead pastors there’s an awesome joy that comes from seeing God build a church from the ground up. we’ve experienced some of these same things as well.

  2. Marilyn Gonzalez

    What a great post! My husband & I are launching our church plant this Sunday!!! Yeah, that’s in 3 days!!! Everything in this post feels like it was a page torn from my journal! So true! My mind is everywhere. But my heart is focused on Jesus. I’m scared, excited, humbled and in awe. Raw dependence on God has been so difficult at time but He’s provided EVERY step. I’m so thankful.

  3. jenna

    So thankful to read others’ stories of church planting. This sounds very similar to our story. We are a year into it and boy has it been an adventure. I love how you wrote in the list, uncertainty then battle then total commitment. That has been us this last year. We have grown and been stretched, but not without those “stretch marks” in our faith. Thank you for this encouraging post!

  4. Libby Nieves

    Thanks for the post! Our journey too started in Springfield, Mo and led us to Florida! We love the adventure and excitement, but struggle with the uncertainty at times and the large amount of work to do!! Balancing this with raising kids at the same time has been tough for us at times.

  5. Tiffany Cooper

    Andrea, there is truly something special about being a part of something from the very beginning. And it takes special people to believe in someone’s vision and partner with them to see if happen. Well done my friend!

  6. Tiffany Cooper

    Marilyn, thank you! I’m so excited for you and your launch this weekend! I would love to hear more about your new church and where you’re planting. Myself and the women of L&L It are behind you 100%! Praying for people who are far from God to be drawn to your church where they can encounter God.

  7. Tiffany Cooper

    Jenna, I was so stretched in the first year and now 10 years later, I continue to be stretched. It’s a never ending process.
    Congrats on making it your first year. I would love to hear more about your church and where you’re planted. Thanks for commenting…I look forward to hearing more from you:)

  8. elana wilkins

    Soo grateful for the posts on Church planting. It is an emotional rollercoaster for sure. Such a wonderful challenge. 6 Months into it, and it is filled with lots of work and lots of anticipation. It is brutiful. (beautiful and brutal) It’s a bit like having children….Loving all the First’s and worth changing diapers. lol. So worth laying the foundation for what we believe will be a great church. Thanks so much for sharing. It’s great encouragement to see you thriving as we are just learning. :o)

  9. Tiffany Cooper

    Libby, I’m sure we have driven the same streets and eaten at the same restaurants in Spfd:)
    I know it can be hard to feel like we have time for it all. The reality is that it takes a lot to start a new church. In the same breath, you never want your children to feel short changed, like they’re getting the leftovers. It’s in those moments we pray for God to give us wisdom and extra grace.This would be a great discussion to have…possibly a future blog post.
    Thanks for sharing. I so appreciate hearing from you!!!

  10. Kate

    Could not agree more with this post, we are in the thick of it…just curious, how did you land on OKC? What called you there? {other than God}

  11. Mary Beth

    Thanks Tiffany for this. And very excited for the Thursday CP focus. I love Church planting and planting wives and will spread the word to our CMN wives.

  12. jenna

    We are north of Dayton, Ohio. Our church is called Mosaic. We are striving to be authentic and intentional in disciple making and focusing heavily on being missional. We are asking God for BIG things this year. We are scared. We sometimes don’t know how we can go another week (feel weak), but other times can’t see ever stopping. So up and down like your post implied. We just ultimately want it to be a church that God is designing, not us.

  13. Marilyn Gonzalez

    Thank YOU Tiffany. Knowing that people are praying with us is incredibly encouraging. Thank you so much, really. We are planting in Irmo, SC. God has been opening so many doors for us here. Our church is named EMRG Church ( pronounced emerge) . We are more of a hip rock soul church with a crazy heart to see this city and beyond come to Christ. I’m the worship leader at the church as well. We are so excited about this journey and seeing all that is to come!!

  14. Jenn Becker

    Oh my goodness…YES! We launched our church two years ago and this list is all too familiar (just add having a second baby to the list too). We were in ministry 12 years before and those years have nothing on the work and commitment required over the last 2. NOTHING, however, has been more rewarding or joy-filled as this crazy church planting journey. I am so excited that there will be a focus on church planting for a bit. I love CP wives!!!

  15. Kendra

    October will be 5 years. WOW! In some ways it still feels like we are just getting started (and still struggling). In other ways, I can just look back and see God’s faithfulness and how much He’s grown us individually and as a church. The song, “Never Once” by Matt Redman pretty much sums it up.

  16. Jessica Cornelius

    “We were in ministry 12 years before and those years have nothing on the work and commitment required over the last 2. NOTHING, however, has been more rewarding or joy-filled as this crazy church planting journey.” I am always interested to see how pastor’s wives that are now church planters compare ministry before being a church planter. Those of us who are church planters know how much work goes into starting a church from nothing, but most of the people in ministry have no idea. I agree, It is very rewarding, and worth all of the hard work!

  17. elaju James Herbert

    Iam encouraged with this testimony and its alesson to learn from and helps many not to fear .I came to Kampala in october 2011 to work for ARocha Uganda. in june 2012 God spoke to me to start achurch along side the work i do.
    The 1st sunday we had 6people and its was at National thearter , the next Sunday we where denied the venue and we moved to another hotel and we had 9 people and after about 2 months we had to move to another venue due to high costs of rent . One thing i have learnt from you is what the bible say that there is not challenge we face that our brothers in Christ else where are not facing .
    Iam really motivated by your testimony to continue serving God
    Be blessed

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