By Ashley Randleman
Signing up for this thing called church planting has been the most exciting, amazing ride of my entire life. Better than moving to Europe as a teenager. Better than traveling the world for five years. Better than running marathons and jumping out of a “perfectly good airplane.”
It has also been the most demanding, exhausting, challenging, and sometimes overwhelming thing I’ve ever said “yes” to. Please hear me as I assure you, I love it. All of it. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
I view church planting as giving birth to your baby. Giving high-fives to the team after 70 people showed up on our launch Sunday 3 1/2 years ago was much the same type of interaction as the doctor congratulating my husband after we delivered our third child.
Adrenaline was pumping and spirits were soaring. The coffee was hot. The brownies were fresh. The chairs were new. The message was strong. His presence was thick. God was good.
Ten weeks after our launch, I gave birth to baby #3. Wading through the scary world of postpartum with a brand new baby, two little boys, a brand new city, home, AND church left me feeling exhausted, emotional, and vulnerable.
At home, we were adjusting. At church, God was busy showing off. We were experiencing weekly salvations, generous offerings, and returning visitors.
After a late-night grocery run and a quick phone call with my dad, I was finally able to connect the dots. I was experiencing some degree of post-planting-partum (if there was a such thing)!
We had just come out of an extremely condensed season of dreaming, praying, and planning — of planting. And now that we had done just that, I was feeling the weight and responsibility of what I had truly signed up for.
Luke 9:62 says, “But Jesus told him, "Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”
This calling was a serious one. Our focus had shifted from planting our church to pastoring our church. From having our baby to raising our baby.
In a healthy marriage, you don’t bail when things get difficult or challenging. You simply love harder.
It’s the same with pastoring. When you find yourself in the middle of growing pains, building projects, staff changes, and solid families moving away…tighten up your grip on that plow! Worship longer. Pray harder.
I have two words that come to mind when I think about postpartum: “it’s hard.” (“It sucks” sounds a little too brash and unladylike).
It’s hard because anything worth doing well usually is.
Want to run a marathon? Then you better find yourself a 16-week plan, hit the streets, and get those 200+ miles of training-runs in to simply run 26.2.
Want to pastor a church? Your church? The one that you invested all that sweat, blood, and tears into? Then don’t be caught off guard when it’s hard as you experience a few setbacks, obstacles, and heartaches! It’s going to be hard. Jesus promised it.
John 16:33 says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
I’m not talking about it’s-hard-let’s-quit kind of hard. I’m talking about, it’s hard so KNOW YOUR GOD! Let Him be your strength and shine through your weaknesses. Don’t look back. Put your armor on. Stand firm then.
Luke 12:48 says, “…For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.”
Are you experiencing post-planting-partum? Know that God knows, sees, and cares. He’s faithful and He can be trusted!
Is your husband coming home exhausted but equally excited? Awesome. He’s “all in” as well.
I have two more words for you regarding this whole post-planting thing: "it’s great." Really, really great.
Ashley Randleman is a pastor’s wife of ten years and a mother of four (Nathan, Josiah, Lydia, and Titus). She and her husband, Jeremiah, planted River Church in February 2014. Ashley has a heart for the mothers and women in her life and church. She pours into them on a weekly basis from the comfort of her living room carpet over strong coffee and meaningful conversation.