Have you ever been abseiling? Otherwise known as "rappelling", it involves using ropes to complete a controlled decent down a vertical drop - often a cliff face - backwards. Harnessed in, you carefully step backwards towards the edge of the cliff, and once you reach it, you lean backwards until the rope is taunt and holding your weight before taking a step into thin air. It's a huge leap of faith you as trust the rope will hold you as otherwise you will fall off the cliff.
Much like skydiving, or bungy jumping, its both exhilarating and petrifying as you are releasing control into someone - something - else.
Planting a church is much like taking that step off the cliff. While we have been generously supported by C3 Church Carlingford and are still part of the one church across two locations, we still had to take the leap. Much like the ultimate aim of abseiling is reaching the ground, the purpose of the church plant is to eventually become an fully autonomous C3 Church. But this is a steady process involving multiple controlled steps.
When we first launched, Rob and Beth described this undertaking by referencing the The Fellowship from The Lord of the Rings. In The Lord of the Rings, a Council was held at Rivendell, an Elvish Town, and involved representatives from three of the largest races - Men, Elves and Dwarves (thank you Lord of the Rings Fandom). The outcome of this meeting was the development of the Fellowship of the Ring - nine members who united together to take the ring to Mount Doom to be destroyed. I love the metaphor, us as a church uniting together to achieve something. And as Rob explored in the service - we have done this fantastically as a church and we should be proud of our achievements. And we know from the books that eventually the Fellowship achieve their goal - the ring is destroyed. Just like we eventually will achieve ours.
However, the path to destroying the ring did not involve all nine members completing the journey to Mt Doom. As a matter of fact, ultimately only two of the nine actually reached that milestone. Instead, each and every member had their own journey to take in supporting that goal. Similarly, as individual members of the church, we have our own purposes, pathways and roles. Whether it is participating in a team, attending the monthly pray meetings or acting as a team leader, we each actively contribute to this church and the church is blessed for it. Furthermore, as we explored last week, being present with God is a vital part of both church life and your own spiritual growth.
And while the practical and active side of planting a church is vital (you can't destroy a ring unless you physically travel to the mountain or can't reach the ground unless you climb down the wall), for me personally, I think it starts with something else - something spiritual. And it is something I often think in our daily life we forget about. And that is faith.
"...Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20
The members of the Fellowship had faith that united, they could destroy the ring. Rob, Beth and the launch team had faith that together we could plant (and sustain) a church that would make a meaningful impact in Wentworthville. And God has rewarded that faith. God has united with us in impacting Wentworthville.
But, sometimes I wonder, in our busy, daily lives is this something that you actively, consciously do? Do you consciously, specifically take time to turn to God and release control? Not just when it is too much, but even on the days when you can manage it yourself. I became a Christian because I realised I could not control my life. Much like taking that first step when abseiling, I had to release control and trust (have faith) that something more powerful, something greater would catch me.
Faith begins with knowing that Jesus is our Lord and Saviour (Luke 2:11) - actually it starts by believing there is a God (John 14:1) - which objectively is a huge commitment when you cannot tangibly see him. Faith is giving God control (Psalm 22:28), rather than relying on our own actions. Faith doesn't have to be big, gigantic thing - it can be as small as a mustard seed. And yet, even that tiny bit of faith can move mountains. I have previously spoken about my "Impossible Faith" list - things that I have no control over which I intentionally give to God to address. And God has answered a number of my prayers.
As a church, united, we have faith that we can achieve something. That's the foundation of the church. But individually - how much faith do you have in God? Have you given God control over your own life; or just the parts that are beyond you? Where are you standing on the cliff? Are you creeping towards the edge, but still remaining in contact with the ground? Are you starting to lean back - or have you completely released control? I know God has a purpose for us (Psalm 57:2 ESV) if you give him the space to lead you in it.
So this week - what do you need to do differently? Whether it is turning directly to God or seeking support and prayer from your Life Group or at church, can can you start building and growing your faith in God? There is a purpose for this, and much like the various members of the Fellowship your journey will be unique, challenging and (sometimes) exciting, but most importantly - not alone.
God bless - see you in Church on Sunday to celebrate Mothers Day.
- Written by Ashleigh Crosilla.