Church planting is hard. There have been some valleys, and my plea for prayer in September came from one. I tend to be exceptional at counting my burdens and often forget the blessings that surround me. But church planting is also awesome, and I don’t want to neglect sharing the good things. I feel like I’m writing from a summit right now. The air is clear, and I can see things that were difficult to see under the shadow of discouragement a few months ago.

There’s a lot to be thankful for. This is not an exhaustive list, but here are six things that stand out to me as huge blessings when I consider the church body I am a part of:

1. Servant leaders

When I look at the men that God has called to lead and shepherd the local church of Grace Fellowship in Warman, I see men that love Jesus. They came into pastoral ministry with empty hands offered to God with willingness to be used. They willingly and joyfully serve in so many different ways because of their love for Jesus. They’re committed to faithfully teaching from the Bible, welcoming people into their lives, and rolling up their sleeves to get things done. They’re among the first to arrive on a Sunday and the last to leave. While obviously not perfect, their leadership echos the words of Paul, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)

2. Scripture shaped people

Believing “all Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16), it is clear to me that the people of Grace value and treasure the Bible. Living under the authority of scripture radically changes people. In its pages God is revealed to us; He speaks to us, and tells us who He is and what He is like. The Bible is God’s story, not a guide to being a better person, list of rules, or moral codes. By the grace of God I am surrounded by people who want to be shaped by Him, who spend time in His word.

3. Committed core

There are some who partnered with us to plant this church from the very beginning. I don’t know if they knew what they were getting themselves into, but they have been shoulder to shoulder with us through difficult times. They have shared their lives, they have opened their homes, they have encouraged their leaders, they have risen to leadership themselves, they have poured themselves out in an effort to “outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10). The church IS the people, and without these people who are committed, core partners in gospel ministry with us, Grace Fellowship would not be what it is. I’m so incredibly thankful for every one of them!

4. Gospel community

Gathering on Sunday mornings is one way we connect as a church, but our call from Christ is not to attend a weekly event. The aim is that our Gospel Communities are where we live as a family of missionary servants, who are growing ever deeper in our relationship with Jesus and welcoming others to know Him. We share life together, build deeper relationships than can be built in a few hours on the weekend, encourage one another in Christ (Hebrews 10:25), and do the hard work of learning to be obedient to the “one another” commands in Scripture. As much as an introvert like me might prefer to live in isolation, I can’t “one another” myself. I need the church and I am so thankful for our Gospel Community.

5. A diverse body

One day people from every nation, tribe, and language will stand before the throne of God and worship Jesus as we were meant to (Revelation 7:9-10). The God of heaven and earth is so creative and and has been gathering a people here to reflect His beautiful diversity. Single. Married. Young. Middle aged. Grandparents. Couples without children.  Foster parents. Adoptive parents. Biological parents. Dark skin. Fair skin. Extroverts. Introverts. Believers. Not-yet-believers. What in the world does this mixed up group of people have in common? We are following after Jesus! It is a beautiful thing when we gather together and our conversation joyfully focuses on Christ – what else do we have in common, and what else brings more joy? (Nothing.)

6. The sovereignty of God

Jesus promised that He would build His church, and the gates of hell would not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). Everyone with a hand in planting this church is hard at work as God’s fellow workers, but it is God who gives growth (1 Corinthians 3:6-9). He was here before we were, He lead us to this city, and He is the one building His church. I can and do rest in His sovereignty. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together (Colossians 1:17). The Gospel of Jesus changes everything! He is causing those who love Him to love Him more, and He is still at work saving people! I can’t tell you how thankful I am to be a part of His unfolding story.

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