If every church planter was required to adopt a life verse, Psalm 127 would be a favorite. If you’ve hung around church for a while, you’ve no doubt heard this verse at some point.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” (Psalm 127:1)
But don’t let familiarity breed contempt. There’s amazing truth in this verse that should produce dependence and determination in all of us who long to see the church grow.
The dependence is easy to spot. The psalmist is clearly saying that if the Lord doesn’t work, our work is worthless. He’s the One who builds the house. He’s the One who watches over the city. It’s not us – our programs, methods, strategies and techniques – that build the church. It’s the sovereign will of God moving His agenda forward. Jesus teaches the same idea when He says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (Jn 15:5) There’s dependence – apart from God, we can do nothing.
The determination is harder to spot but every bit as important. Psalm 127:1 also makes it clear that the Lord accomplishes His work through our work. No where in the psalm are we told to stop laboring. The point of the verse isn’t to get the builders to quit working. The point isn’t to get the watchmen out of the towers. In fact, the very opposite is true – keep building, stand your watch. Keep working. Belief in the sovereignty of God isn’t an excuse for laziness.
So, when I think about seeing Restoration City Church come to life, I know we are totally dependent on the grace of God and the faithfulness of Jesus to His promises. But I also know our team needs to work like crazy, sacrifice deeply and approach our task with fierce determination.
God uses completely determined and totally dependent churches to display His glory through His people to a watching world.
This past weekend was absolutely amazing as we got to host our first public vision meeting for the planting of Restoration City Church in Washington, DC. We had about 40 people show up and express interest in joining our team! That’s crazy when you think about it – 40 people from Raleigh-Durham showing up to talk about how God could use them in planting a church in Washington, DC. Unreal!!! My heart is still so full and I am so excited for what God could do through this team.
I don’t know that I have one big summary thought from the weekend. At this point, it’s more a collection of random thoughts. But here they are:
1. I love planting a church! There is absolutely nothing like seeing Jesus be faithful to His promise to build His church. It’s thrilling to watch God work and I love seeing Him bring something new to life. I can’t imagine doing anything else right now and am so grateful this is what God has called me to do.
2. It feels really good to use your gifts. As I was driving to church on Sunday, I realized it had been well over 6 months since I had gotten to be in a room of volunteers and cast vision for what God is doing through a ministry. That’s not a complaint about those months…I just hadn’t realized how long it had been. And I had forgotten how much I love it. If you can’t get inspired by people showing up to see how they can leverage their lives for God’s glory, I don’t know what would fire you up! It’s just amazing and I love times like those.
3. I’m so grateful to our team. We had a small team of people who helped pull the whole meeting together and they did a great job. They served so well and I’m so grateful to call each one of them friends.
4. This is only the start. Our goal isn’t to host a successful vision meeting. Our goal is to plant a church that God uses in a powerful way to reach the lost in Washington, DC. This isn’t the time to sit back and congratulate ourselves on a good start. This is the time to pray bigger, trust more, work harder and believe all the promises of God. This is a time to prepare for what’s ahead…but I do love the first indication that it’s going to be an incredible ride!
Now starts the really fun part – seeing Jesus turn a room full of strangers into a team that loves one another and is determined to see restoration come to Washington. When I think about that, it really does seem like the best is yet to come!
I’m so grateful to Chuck Scoggins (@chuckscoggins) for the work he did to bring our new website to life. Check it out at restorationcitydc.com.
Interested in learning more about our upcoming plant in DC? Join us this Sunday, November 10th at 1PM to learn more about the vision and how you can be involved. We’re meeting at Summit’s Chapel Hill Campus (East Chapel Hill High School, 500 Weaver Dairy Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27514). Lunch will be provided.
If you’re coming, please RSVP here.
God has called Laura and I to lead a team in planting Restoration City Church in Washington, DC. And, yes, it’s a pretty amazing feeling to actually write those words!
When we started moving down this road in August, we knew the story of what God was doing in our lives would be told in two parts.
The first was clear at the time. We came to Durham, NC for a 9 month church planting residency with The Summit Church. We knew God had called us to plant a church, we knew we needed a season of preparation and we knew Summit was the right place for us. So, we moved our family to Durham. But we came knowing our time here was limited and preparation for the second part of this journey – actually planting a church.
Laura and I have been praying about planting a church for the last four years. We’ve spent hours talking about what the church would look like and what kind of culture we wanted to create. We’ve dreamed about who we would want to plant with and where we could have the greatest impact. We’ve doodled church names. We’ve been inspired by friends. We’ve wrested with fear and doubt. And through it all, our sense of calling to this work has only increased.
And now it’s time to talk about the church God is calling us to plant. In May, we will be returning to Washington, DC to plant Restoration City Church in one of the greatest and most strategic cities in the world. In the weeks and months ahead, I’ll be writing more about what the church will look like, our timetable, why DC, what God is doing in all of this and what I’m learning on this journey.
But for today, I just want to ask for your prayers. Pray God would be pleased with the church we plant and use us greatly for His glory in our nation’s capital. That’s our desire. That’s what we’ve invested our lives in and that’s what we’re believing God for in this new season.
Having a name and a city is an important step in this journey but we know there are so many more in our future. Our hope for these first steps and all the ones to come is the same – the faithfulness of Jesus to build His church and the power of the Gospel to change everything. That’ what we’re standing on in these days and that gives us all the assurance we need for the journey.
For Christ’s Fame in DC,
Pastor|Restoration City Church