This past January, my husband Paul and I just celebrated our one year anniversary as a church! A year and a half ago, in June 2010, we moved to New York City with a dream in our heart and the audacity to believe that we could plant a church that would inﬂuence a city that inﬂuences the world. Now, just a little over a year out from the ﬁrst service in the Tribeca Cinemas in lower Manhattan, we’ve gone from 9 of us (including our 3 kids) around a picnic table in Central Park, to two communities in this city that has stolen our hearts.
The fundamentals that I have learned while rolling up my sleeves alongside my husband, getting my hands dirty and planting Liberty Church, are fundamentals I will never graduate from…
I hope these four fundamentals will help you wherever you find yourself in your own journey. I find it integral to everything we do as women.
Facilitate and Maintain Personal Growth
Fundamental #1 : Our ﬁrst ministry is to our family—hands down.
If you could look inside my heart and physically see my value system, I ooze family. I LOVE my family. My husband is the greatest gift and compliment to my life. My children add spice and joy and put my soul through tests that I never knew I’d have to face. And that’s why, deep down, I love building a family atmosphere into church. My blood family is the earthly gift that God has given me to steward over, love, and see the greatest return through my investment into each of their lives.
Someone once said something to me to the effect of: “It’s great to see countless people saved on alter calls and have church growth, but if at the end of it all, your own children aren’t in love with God and serving Him, then somewhere we missed it.”
We’re called to make disciples, and the ﬁrst ones Paul and I are called to “make” are our children. I understand that they have free will and we can’t will them to serve God, but the banner over our door reads, “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” We will give them our time and our lives to have the best shot at a deep, loving, real, pure relationship with Jesus. We will disciple them and raise them up in the way that they should go until it’s time to push them out of the nest and see them ﬂy.
Our church will grow and be in good health, but our ﬁrst ministry will always be to our family. My family will never play second fiddle.
Fundamental #2: Don’t sacriﬁce your relationship with God on the altar of “busyness.”
Hello! We all have busy, full lives—churches to pastor and build, marriages that are destined to ﬂourish, children to lead and love, houses to clean and manage, friendships to invest into….ahhhhh! Jesus, where are you?
Honestly, I have found that with every season, I have to ﬁgure out once again how to have an intimate, satisfying relationship with God. When do I get time to pray? To read the Word? To dream and create? It’s not sexy, but once again, it comes down to boundaries and planning, “priority management,” as my husband calls it.
If you’re not getting time with God, then you’re not operating at full capacity, and we’ve all been there; feeling a bit like a wilting plant with roots that are shallow and malnourished. If you’re there even now as you read this, just decide to begin to work on your priorities today.
Find a Bible reading plan on Youversion.com that is short and to the point, even ﬁve minutes a day, and read it on your iPad or phone before you roll out of bed. Buy a devotional that gets the word of God into you somehow on a daily basis. Listen to the Bible on your iPod or iPad as you get ready in the morning (if you can sneak the time to have a shower… ha!). Before you ﬂick on the TV at night, take ﬁve minutes to pray, focus, and read a passage of Scripture.
And, more than anything, go with the ﬂow of each season. Don’t let self-condemnation stop you from starting something today. If you are ﬂourishing and in good health in your relationship with God, then your marriage, family, and church will follow suit.
I truly hope these two fundamentals will help or inspire you in some way! You can also check out a short documentary about our first year in NYC here:
Stay in the fight…you are so important!
ARC WOMEN READERS: This is Part 1 of 2 Parts to “Facilitate and Maintain Personal Growth”…stay tuned next week for Fundamentals 3 & 4.