Jesus Christ came from God the Father in love—died for our sins, was buried, resurrected, and made appearances—that instead of being condemned to eternal hell we can be redeemed and forgiven new creations who forever worship God. Romans 10:14-15 teaches, of sharing this good news with those who don’t yet know it, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’” In this interview series, “For the Good News,” we’re priviledged to feature missionaries and stateside church planters who have been sent for the lost to hear the gospel.
Erin is currently rooting her life in New Braunfels, Texas, as she and her husband obey God’s call to plant a church. She has four precious children, two at home with Lord and two on earth. Erin is the founder of Hope Mommies, a ministry to serve families experiencing miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss.
Lianna: Share with us how being sent as church planters helps the lost hear the proclamation of good news.
Erin: Christ promises to build His church (Matt. 16:18) Christ is the head of the church (Eph. 5:23). It is through the church that the manifold wisdom of God is displayed (Eph. 3:10). It is through the church that disciples grow and are sanctified (basically every epistle in the New Testament supports this). It seems prudent and obvious then, that as we fulfill the Great Commission in Matthew 28 to make disciples, we do so through the vehicle of the church.
Personally, evangelism is not my “gift.” When I take spiritual gift inventories, this one ranks low. You can imagine then my fleshly anxiety as we began to pray and prepare to be church planters! Here’s truths I’ve drawn on when faced with anxiety:
1. Every believer is called to make disciples (Matt. 28:19)
2. Christ is with me! (Matt. 28:20)
3. God doesn’t call us to something then leave us high and dry. He will provide what we need. (Eph. 3:20-21).
One very cool thing is that despite any anticipated awkwardness, sharing has been remarkably easy and often. We just moved to New Braunfels, Texas in January. So as I “go” (to the playground with the kids, or the river, or the library) I ask the Lord to give me an opportunity to talk to someone. Usually I can ask a question about the city, and then share that we recently moved. 95% of the time, people ask me what drew us here. And then boom, there’s my opportunity to share that we’re here to plant a church because we believe that Jesus came to die because He loves the world; wants to save them out from their sins and condemnation; wants to have a personal relationship with them; and wants them to be involved and growing in a church that exalts the Word, worships Him in spirit and truth, prays fervently and focuses on making disciples.
Sometimes this ends in awkwardness. But more often than not, I make a friend or at least a smiling acquaintance at the park. I can leave knowing that I planted seeds, and God is at work to yield the growth (1 Cor. 3:6).
L: In addition to the very significant area of financial support, what are some of the most helpful ways you have been supported by the church?
E: Financial support is huge, no doubt. And it was a very clear indication of God’s leading for Blair and I to church plant. Very few people have the thousands of dollars it takes to plant sitting in their bank account. It was a “mountain” that only God could move, and He did, even before we asked!
When it’s God’s will, done in God’s way, for His glory, He makes the path clear (Proverbs 3:6). I don’t mean to minimize the struggles of raising support. Entreating others to support the calling you believe God has made clear through the confirmation of the church is humbling. I hope to encourage you that God is a good Father, who gives good gifts to His children, and owns every bank account. If it is His will for you to go, He will make it happen. What He does in you as you wait is the real gold.
Having a church body joyfully send us to “go” was confirmation, and it has been a joy to have friends and members from our previous congregation show up for Core Group meetings, faithfully pray for us, and financially support us.
We are also privileged to be a part of a church planting network, Harvest Bible Fellowship. I cannot understate how incredible it has been to be a part of a network, rather than parachuting in. There are decades of experience that we can draw from.
L: What have you learned about the power of prayer?
E: I feel a bit like Job as I answer this: “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you;” (Job 42:5). I had a weak prayer life before embarking on this church planting journey. I prayed because I know I should; I prayed because it felt good to pour out my heart before Him; I prayed inconsistently and without much fervency. If prayers weren’t answered quickly I lost heart; if prayers were answered I felt shocked. My prayer life was a reflection of my understanding of the character of God, and what it revealed to me is that I didn’t understand His goodness, His love for His children, or His willingness to answer their cries.
A few tools that God used to break and build my prayer life: A Journey to Victorious Praying, by Bill Thrasher; James MacDonald’s Breakthrough Prayer preaching series; memorizing Psalm 34; and a 40 day prayer challenge.
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:31-32). This verse has redefined my prayer life. If I believe that God willingly sacrificed His Son to bring me to Himself and secure my eternity in heaven—then what is $10,000 to Him? What is the growth of a core group, or a building location, or a new home, or friendships, in comparison to that? Of course He will give us the things we need!
In prayer God reshapes my heart, straightening what is bent by sin or faulty thinking or fear. In prayer God convicts me of the sin that causes a barrier in my relationship with Him. God won’t hear me if I cherish sin in my heart (Ps. 66:18). And I cannot be made more into the likeness of His Son if I am not in right relationship with Him. Everything goes back to prayer. Everything begins on your knees.
L: For those who sense a calling to be church planters, what wisdom would you share about how to prepare?
E: The primary call to pastor the church plant belongs to my husband. As a wife and helpmate, I am willing and ready to support my husband in this great work.
Is your husband a man who meets the qualifications of an elder? Have his teaching and preaching gifts been confirmed by others? Has the calling been supported by elders at his church? Is he able to leave the church that he is at “well” (in good standing, not in a lurch, with a joyful sending?)
Research church planting networks. Read solid, encouraging books regarding church planting. But mostly, pray.
If God is sending you, He will provide your every need. Pour out your heart before Him. Be brave and courageous. He will direct your steps. Rest in His leading. Reflect on His preparation and faithfulness to you in the past. Keep a prayer journal. Know the Word. Be in the Word, every day. Memorize it. Prioritize it. Be ready to share it. Learn what it means to work hard and still rest in God’s promise to build the church.