My wife and I have been in the process of church-planting for about 5 years. We didn’t officially open the doors for Sunday services until much later, but the process of planting began much earlier. We still look back to those first days of when God told us to get ready to leave, the morning I heard His voice tell me where to plant, the visions He gave in the early days, the first person we shared Jesus with in our new city, the families who have come and gone, all those we’ve been so blessed to baptize… miracle after miracle of God’s provision, His goodness, His unexpected favor, His comfort, and His presence. It is these precious stories and moments of God working that remind us of Who God is and why we are here. And we all need that. We need to remember Who our God is and why we are doing what we are doing. God knows that, and that is why over and over again He tells us in His Word to REMEMBER.
Why is it that we need to be told to remember such incredible things in our lives? The nation of Israel had to be told again and again not to forget the work of God. They were even told not to forget God Himself! Throughout the Old Testament, we see men building alters from piles of rocks as a place to worship and commemorate an encounter with God. It is almost funny that in order to remember a work of God, they would build a physical structure that people would have to walk around or literally trip on to force them to remember something special that God had done.
Even in the New Testament, the Apostle Peter wrote about the importance of remembering. He said that he was writing to REMIND them of things they already knew (2 Peter 1:12-15). We need that! You know God is good. You know He has called you. Yet, we all need to be reminded of what God has done so that we do not forget! This has become one of the most important things about our church planting journey—choosing to look back and remember. Creating these alters of stones reminding us of the faithfulness of Jesus.
WHAT IS IMPORTANT?
It is very easy to get so caught up in the business of what planting a church involves, that we can forget what God is doing and has done. There is certainly much practical work to be done, and it is not unimportant, but the practice of looking back at all God has accomplished ALREADY will strengthen and spur you on in those moments where it does get tough! The urgency of this moment’s tasks will always be there, but the spiritual importance of creating this habit is immeasurable. You know the God stories you tend to tell over and over again? The people who you’ve seen God save and transform? As time goes on, you will forget these precious stones that God has given you to pile up for yourself to REMEMBER. We do not choose to forget these things, but we MUST choose to remember them.
As we do look back and see the faithfulness of Jesus over and over, our hearts become full again of worship and trust in our Savior. Alters were not just a place of remembering, but a place of worship to God. And this makes so much sense when you’ve experienced God’s goodness and provision. The memories of all He has done creates such a sweet sense of true praise in our hearts. And as a church planter, this MUST be who we are! Before door hangers and connection cards, before worship sets and strategies, we need to have our hearts full of love and worship for our God for all the good things He has done for us.
HOW TO DO IT
Making this a priority in your life does take time. It takes discipline. Building an alter from heavy rock was hard work! But once completed, it was a testimony to what God had done. This is also something that can become a habit for you as you do it more and more. You can get creative in the ways you choose to record and remember God’s work in your life and your church planting journey.
One of the things I see working best is keeping a written journal of God stories as you go. Remember, the things you think you’ll never forget will be forgotten if you don’t write them down! Write down the person you saw come to church for the first time and get saved. Write down the money that came in at the last second when God provided. Write down the scripture that God gave you when you first felt Him calling you.
Another great way to remember is to make it visual. Pictures and videos are an incredible gift from God that allow us to literally look and see the people and places God has moved. I started making short baptism videos ( http://www.redemptionindelraybeach.com/baptism) of each person we’ve baptized from the beginning, and though it seemed silly at first, I am so thankful now to have these to look back on and watch life after life that God has redeemed here again and again. It’s beautiful and moving to have these things that stir us so deeply when we remember them.
Whether you are just beginning your journey to plant a church or are simply in the midst of daily life with Jesus, today is always the best time to start remembering the goodness of God. It is never too late to write down something unexpected that God did for you or a miracle when it happens. I hope you will experience the joy that comes from looking back at these things months and years from now and will rejoice and find comfort in the faithfulness of our God.