Written by: Mark Merrell
It can be easy to view other churches as competitors. Especially other church plants. It’s not fun to admit, but it’s true. Drive around Katy on Sunday morning and you’ll see signs in front of nearly every school “advertising” a church. The natural inclination is to view those churches as “competing” for the people we are “chasing.” The unchurched. The de-churched. Or, heaven help me, those Christians that really desire to walk in community (as if we somehow have a patent on that or have completely figured it out).
I have to fight those sinful thoughts. I have to remind myself that our God is bigger than my sinful ways of thinking. That our God isn’t in the zero-sum game. That for Crossings Community Church to thrive as a part of the body of Christ does NOT mean that others have to fail or that we have to measure up to some manufactured barometer of the “proper” size of a church. That our goal should never be about growing the “kingdom of Crossings Community Church” but rather the kingdom of God.
It’s one of the main reasons I’m so excited about the leap of faith our church is taking to help plant Renaissance Church. We all understand the implications of this decision. We know that we are losing some of our “best” folks – faithful members who have put in massive amounts of sweat equity to see the gospel proclaimed at our little corner of Katy. We know that the rest of our workloads will increase. And, maybe most difficult of all, we know how greatly we will miss what they have meant to our body of believers. But (and this is a big but), we also know the story of the gospel of Jesus is immeasurably (IMMEASURABLY) bigger than us and our individual circumstances.
And, here’s the deal. No one is pretending that this will be easy. If you’ve been at Crossings for more than a day, you know that planting a church (even a decade in) isn’t for the faint of heart. It can be a little scary. The mountain of “what if” questions could drive a person crazy. What if people don’t show up? What if we lose people to burn out? What if we can’t make the budget? What if, for whatever reason, this doesn’t work out?
I think those “what ifs” are what make this leap of faith so encouraging to me. I’m encouraged that we have talented, servant-minded leaders ready, willing, and able to lead a gospel-centered church in a neighboring city. I’m encouraged that we have members in our body—who have lived and breathed the often difficult and messy parts of church planting—who are so inspired by the call to make disciples that they’re willing to buckle up their chinstraps and do it all over again. And, I’m encouraged by those who will remain at Crossings Community Church – I’m encouraged by their willingness to step out of their comfort zones in the hope and belief that God has amazing things in store for those that we are sending…and for those that are staying behind.
So, my hope for all of us at Crossings Community Church is that we are deeply encouraged by what God is doing with Renaissance Church. Despite the unknowns, despite the uncertainties, despite our own personal pain at seeing them go—that we are encouraged. Yes, there are a mountain of “what ifs.” But, what if our God is bigger than we give Him credit for? What if our God has great things in store for Renaissance Church and the people that walk through its doors? What if we get to look back in 5, 10, 20, 50 years and marvel at the works that God has done through the simple faith of His people at Crossings Community Church? Will you join me in praying toward that end?
Mark Merrell and his wife, Allison, have been married for 15 years. They have four children Brooklynn, Drew, Adaline, and Mason. Mark is an elder at Crossings Community Church where he and his family have been members for 11 years.