Speaking of Prayers and Church Plants…

James Choung is InterVarsity’s Director of Evangelism and he’s a blogger. He recently posted about “A Stupid Prayer” that he prayed at the beginning of a new church plant. He prayed for “God to build something that wouldn’t be credited to the talents of the people in the room.” and for Him “to do something that could only be explained by his presence with us, that would be impossible to do without God.”

photo credit: James Choung

photo credit: James Choung

A simple and, in many ways, typical pastor’s prayer. But James wasn’t prepared for that prayer to be answered so fully and vividly in the year to come. God lead him to an avalanche of new responsibilities, both personal and in his ministry, where “everything feels impossible,” and he found himself “trying to manage it all, to keep them small and manageable.” And thinking, “some would say that’s wisdom. I can tell you that, for me, it’s laced with fear.”

That made me think about the prayer I pray with my sons. A prayer that asks for Bravery, and so in effect also asks for Fear. And I’m thinking of Pranny and her first year in campus ministry, planting a brand-new ministry on the Cal Poly campus. I recognize that, in God’s ways, fear-doubt-impossibility are often the most telling signs that we are on the right path.

It seems that since the dawn of time, the missions of His people have been marked by these dark imprints. Signs that it’s we that are small and He that is big.

And that’s how James concludes his thoughts, that “in the end, I now have more faith that the rest of the prayer will be answered — that God would build something that could only be explained because He was with us.”


James Choung blogs at: http://www.jameschoung.net/blog/

The Challenges of a Ministry Start-Up

Any small business owner will tell you, the start up is brutal. You work non-stop, sometimes 60-80 hour weeks, and you are every member of your support staff. You are the salesperson, you’re the marketer, the cook, the maid, the accountant, the manager, and the secretary. All those hours, all that work, all that heart and soul and hope.

But, that’s life as an entrepreneur. You do everything you can and hope that something, somewhere sticks. Someone becomes a customer, a fan. You start to build a reputation. And eventually people know you and trust you, and one day you find you’ve gone from having an extremely costly hobby to a business.

And all that heartache pays off.

I am, of course, describing the life of a typical start up. Someone opens up a coffee shop or a freelance writing service. And I’m also describing the difficult and strenuous course of the church planter.

Pranny and Larry

Pranny and her husband Larry

Pranny Xie-O’Bryan is a dear friend of our family and a regular at Trinity. She has set off into the wild west of campus ministries, taking on the daunting terrain of Cal Poly Pomona, a non-religious state school that is made up mostly of commuters (83%) who come from a wide range of ethnic, racial and cultural backgrounds.

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