We’ve discovered since we moved to Dublin that there has been some misunderstanding about our time line for church planting. The common thinking seems to be that we would move here, and immediately start working on the plant.
So after talking it over with a few people, it seemed that it would be helpful for those interested in our plant if we wrote a post clarifying our plans as much as possible. Here goes…
As Liz and I prayed and talked to each other, as well as other pastors and coaches over the past year or so, we came to the conclusion that we should not “officially” begin planting for the first 12-18 months we were in Ireland. We still try to meet people, learn about Ireland, the culture, etc…but not work at gathering people, starting small groups, or anything like that.
There were a few key reasons we decided this:
First, we knew that we have a lot to learn as far as understanding this new culture/context we are now living in. We were looking at these first several months more or less like being in language/culture school. Everything we’ve seen to this point has illustrated that we clearly do have a lot to learn.
Secondly, and related, was that we had a sense that much of the shape of what our church plant would look like would not become clear until we had a better understanding of Ireland, Dublin, and the people who live here. We knew clearly we were not supposed to simply translate what we had done in Ithaca, but beyond that, we only had some general ideas.
For example, as we’ve been here for the past two months, one of the ideas we’ve been working on is, “will my role be as a full-time pastor/teacher like it was in Ithaca, or would it be a long-term, bi-vocational role?” I think that question is just one of many questions we’ll be figuring out this year.
Thirdly, and in our minds, most important, our family needed some time to heal. The past three years have been very difficult for all of us. As you may know, we have two long-term illnesses that we deal with on a daily basis…One of our kids has had to deal with pretty substantial bullying…and another was attacked in school (that one ended up in family court if you remember). That led to us already having had to move our family once in order to get to another school district….and that’s not even getting into stuff that came up from time to time from being a family in full-time ministry.
We knew for this new church plant to have a healthy foundation, it would require our family being in a good place.
And so each of those things made it clear to us that the time for us to jump into something as big as a church plant was not as soon as we touched down in Dublin. So our plan has been that the next year/18 months, we will be focused on the 3 areas we listed above…specifically our family.
To the extent that we didn’t communicate that clearly, I apologize. I hope this sheds a lot more light on what the next year or so will be looking like.
I hope that all makes sense. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.