Recently we received an amazing care package from our dear friends at Highrock Church in Boston. Not only did Allie get many clothes, but we also gladly received recycled magazines (as everything is new to us here). In Leadership Journal, we read an amazing article about how church planters are assessed and affirmed in their calling. One interesting observation was how former Highrock pastor, Peter Sung, was quoted several times in the article (he now leads the ECC church planting).
We were struck by a classic list of qualities typically looked for in a prospective church planter. This caused us to have a wonderful conversation about how we see ourselves (or don’t) in this list.
1. Visioning Capacity- From starting a youth group to creating an ideal ministry plan for these two years, we are growing in this capacity to see our dream future and work towards that target with all our hearts. (btw, we have been highly impacted by this trait evident in our two main supporting churches, especially in Pastor Dave at Highrock and a different Pastor Dave at P’s and G’s in Edinburgh).
2. Intrinsically Motivated- Even now, nobody is giving us a job description and a timesheet to fill out. You will definitely flounder as a missionary (or church planter) if the drive to serve, initiate, and be proactive is not there. We are constantly thinking about new ideas, plans, and dreams.
3. Creates Ownership of Ministry- This is one area that I (Grant) hoped to do in our youth ministry, but sense the need to grow as it is easy to hold on to ministries rather than truly empower others to take charge and run with it.
4. Relates to the Unchurched- Being in a bubble of seminary life and church work made it tough to maintain this trait. Yet, Miho has always shown a natural knack at relating to most anybody, particularly other Japanese. Perhaps Grant’s laidback attitude allows him to listen to others, while withholding judgment and offending non-Christians before a relationship is built.
5. Spousal Cooperation- This is one trait that is strongly present, as we would not be here if we did not both sense the same passion and vision.
6. Effectively Builds Relationships- Again, Miho seems more gifted than me in this area. Though, we both strive at initiating and constantly working on relationships. We are trying to maintain our long-time friendships while always looking at for new people to connect with. Now with a baby, this is both a challenge and a blessing (at least with other young families).
7. Commitment to Church Growth- Coming from several dynamic, growing churches and ministries, Japanese church life certainly makes this a challenge. Yet, we refuse to lose hope that God can and will grow the church.
8. Responsive to the Community- Figuring out what our community is looking for and needs is always on our mind. Especially as Japanese people are suspicious of the church and what goes on there, we need to be extremely proactive to express our love and care for their lives, concerns, and needs, rather than secluding ourselves.
9. Utilizes Giftedness of Others- We have over and over realized the limitations in ourselves to do ministry, which is why we are very excited to have Tommy join us. Our language cafe also would not run very well without the help of those who have helped in multiple ways. It has been exciting to see gifts coming alive at our church already.
10. Flexible and Adaptable- We regularly make plans, but follow the Spirit’s leading. To cling stubbornly to our ideas and desires would result in immense frustration both here and in any previous ministries. Our personalities really help us meet this quality.
11. Builds Group Cohesiveness- We are striving for this, as we realize how powerful a loving, unified community is. Perhaps it is one of the best factors for effective evangelism.
12. Resilience- We have certainly gone through alot of changes and points of stress in these past six months. Yet, we are still here. Somehow God continues to give us strength and resolve.
13. Exercises Faith- The very fact that we stepped out in faith to serve here demonstrates this. Yet, we don’t want our moments of faith to be in the past tense. We hope our months and years ahead will also marked by moments when we live by faith, follow God’s leading in faith, and take risks in faith.
Reflecting on this list, we are by no means perfect nor equally qualified across this list. Yet, we seek to follow God’s leading in our lives and become people who are marked by qualities such as these in order to make a difference for God through our gifts, efforts, and passions.