Where’s the how-to manual?

ikea

Have you ever put together a piece of furniture from IKEA? It can be more than a little intimidating at first. In all honesty, it’s pretty simple. Easy is not the thought that comes to mind on your first IKEA building adventure though. I mean, come on, have you seen their how-to manuals?

But…. There are certain “nut and bolt” pieces that are very straight forward…..once you know how they work. The beauty is that once you do one, they literally all go together the same way. From beds to tables to book shelves. Once you know the system, it goes smoothly, or at least smoother.

Two years ago, I found myself looking at an “IKEA” type building project. God seemed to be calling us in to church planting. Excitement was not the problem. Between talks with Roger (early mentor) and hearing from church planters on the field, it’s easy to get excited about this stuff. But how do you do it? I mean, I do not know the first thing about starting a church, right? Exactly!

It’s been interesting to watch God prepare us for each next step. Typically this has included key people that would mentor or coach us into states of readiness for each next step. I’ve learned to look for such people also, mostly feeling like Timothy and needing a “Paul.”

I had an interesting conversation with a church planter this last Sunday evening. Honestly, I had never really talked to this guy before, or at least more than a hello, how are you. He was able to share a few nuggets of wisdom. He said that this particular plant, for him, was his third or fourth “go round.” On paper, he’s a seasoned veteran to the field.

He said that recently he was able to have a conversation with an old mentor about frustration with coming up with plans and setting dates and schedules for raising support. The mentor told him, “Scratch all that. Look for the markers. That’s where you will be most productive.”

Now at this point, I had to stop him and say, “Wait what did you just say?” He looked confused and said, “Yea the guy told me to stop all that and look for the road markers.” I said, “dude I needed to hear that right now. When I first got in to this whole thing, a man named Roger told me that very same thing. I find myself forgetting that and getting frustrated with not being able to tell others back home that I have a plan of succession and an end game in mind.” He said, “Yep, that’s what I have been doing this “go round,” looking for markers. It’s been so much less stressful to just wait for God to show the way.”

So your next thought has to be: what in the world is Casey talking about. What’s a road marker? Am I right?

What we mean, is not pre-assuming what God will do. Only going as far as God has shown.

Let me illustrate.

A man feels he has a calling to plant so he might move to that area and he starts a new church. He can either: A) have an exact plan of every detail or B) not have a clue how this will work. Technically there could be a number of option Cs where he might know some details, but I regress.

So if said man decided that he was just going to look for the road markers, this is how his journey might look.

He has a burden or passion and a viable path to move to a city (say Las Vegas). That is a marker in his life. So he moves to said city. That is a marker. He begins doing whatever life would look like in the city. That could be full-time church planter (yea right), apprenticeship, or just simply working a full time job and doing life there. So what is next?

Some models or strategies require that the church planter know what’s next. Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn’t. These questions might arise. At what point do we rent a building? When do we start a worship service? When do we ordain deacons and elders? When do we start doing missions in Asia and Africa? You know, all the unknowns and expectations of the life of “corporate church.” But what do you do if you have no clue when you should start your first worship service?

Ready for it….. Watch for the markers. Simple right? Instead of rushing in to hosting a worship service that has the full needs of a 150 person church, yet only 5 attend, try meeting in your home until God provides a marker that you should indeed start a public worship service.

There are tons of pro and con arguments concerning this idea of watching for the markers. Things like, how will this un-ended monster be funded? Is all this just an excuse for a church planter to be a procrastinator without any end game in mind? Will you ever see God bless your church with people if you don’t step out on faith and start something like a worship service, even if you aren’t ready for that? Honestly, this blog post is not intended to go through all that. I just bring it up for balance.

So, let’s close this thing. Where do we all fit in to that picture? Honestly, looking for markers has so much more to do with life than just starting churches. How would our lives look if we were constantly looking for guide markers from God in how to spend our time and lives? I’m not talking about walking around looking for signs in the sky on whether we should buy this house or car, or any other way we use God as a magic eight ball (remember those things). No, that wouldn’t be very profitable. I’m simply talking about continuing to live our lives as normal, yet looking for leading from the Lord at every corner. Knowing that he is guiding us and knowing that we are not wasting our time on lesser gods.

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