I never saw myself as a pastor’s wife. In fact, when Dan first told me that he felt the Lord calling him to pastoral ministry (while we were in college), I recall saying something along the lines of: “that’s nice, but I think that means we have to break up because I don’t want to be a pastor’s wife.” Jokingly. Kind of.
I eventually got over any qualms or hesitations I felt about a life in ministry and have immensely enjoyed partnering with Dan in ministry. But I can honestly say that church planting had never been on our radar.
Fast forward to spring 2013, when Dan and I attended the West Coast Presbyterian Pastors’ Conference in Santa Cruz, CA. I was on maternity leave with then 7-week-old Lucy, so we tagged along to this three day conference. At each meal, Pete Santucci, a church planter in Bend, Oregon, would stand up at the announcement microphone and share facts about church planting. Like, new churches are the best way to reach unchurched people, or in the U.S., on average, there are 11 churches for every 10,000 people. [Side note: there are only 4 churches for every 10,000 people in Austin!]
Dan and I were sitting at these meals, looking around at everyone talking and eating and ignoring Pete, with our minds blown. Why wasn’t everyone paying attention to this?! This is huge! These brief moments at meals changed the course of our life and ministry. Pete invited the attendees to an information session on church planting at the end of the conference, and Dan and I eagerly went to learn more. We ended up talking to Pete about his church plant and heart for unchurched people for over an hour. And we caught the spark.
On the drive home from the conference, we spent nearly the full 5 hours talking and daydreaming about planting a church and what it would look like for us. From the beginning of our discussions, we never had a vision of a traditional “attractional” church model with Sunday morning services and programs. For us, it was always about missional, incarnational ministry and reaching post-modern millenials who would, frankly, never step foot in a church on Sunday morning. How could we bring Jesus to them?
In asking these questions and exploring church planting more, our excitement continued to grow as we considered being missionaries to our people. We read, we prayed, we took long walks and talked for hours. We took personality tests (Gallup StrengthsFinder, DISC) and answered questionnaires to see if we were well-suited for the work. We attended ECO’s first church planter’s assessment, which was a rigorous week of exercises, interviews, and assessments for BOTH of us to see if we were a good fit for this path and if so, when we should pursue it.
Doors continue to open, God continues to affirm our path, and we continue to grow more and more passionate about this calling. I love how He has surprised us with a call to church planting, and I’m so excited about what’s ahead. I also can’t wait to share with you what He’s doing in Austin!
[For further reading on the efficacy of church planting, please see Tim Keller’s article, “Why Plant Churches“.]