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Losing Yourself and Winning for Jesus

by Dwayne Bond

In about one month, we’ll all be in St. Louis, MO, asking God to meet with us for equipping, encouragement, training, and confirmation for what we sense Him calling us to do or continue doing for His glory. My heart is full as I pray for our time together. There is nothing like being in a room full of hungry and passionate men and women who are anticipating the Holy Spirit to show up. As a church planter myself, I’m asking God to help me prepare our generation of church planters, ministry leaders, and pastors for longevity in ministry by sharing lessons that I have learned.

Honestly, we all enter ministry for longevity and success. We accept God’s call to win and we sign up with caution, but yet high optimism. Let’s face it, though; not everyone who plants a church or is in ministry makes it to the end. Although highly gifted, seminary trained, well organized, entrepreneurially minded, heavily endorsed by peers, fully committed, called, and passionate for God’s church, there is nothing in us that can guarantee that we’ll finish well. 

Finishing well is the desire of every leader who accepts a prodding and call to engage in local church ministry. However, as idealistic as we are about what God is calling us to accomplish for His glory, the question we all must face is, “What do we do when our reality isn’t what we expected?”. In other words, as stressors increase, personal and congregational expectations overwhelm us, our families shout for our attention, and our optimistic desire for success is met with the fear of failure, what do we do? 

What do we do when we are either growing too fast, not fast enough, or not at all? What do we do when close friends on our core team leave our church for the church down the street? What do we do when our wives are stressed out because they are carrying the load of the family while we are “building the church?” What do we do when our financial support begins to wane and bills need to be paid? What do we do when giving drops and no one is re-tweeting our sermons? How do we cope with a reality that is miles away from our high expectations and ideals about success? How do we thrive? How do we engage with others? How do we avoid despair? How do we find Christ in our reality? How do we rest? How do we make it to the end?

During my session at the Boot Camp, I’ll teach you about the “Lessons Learned.” As a church planting pastor and trained counselor, I have been humbled by God’s grace as I have had to navigate through the “realness” of church planting. I have discovered multiple nuggets while preaching the gospel to myself through success, failures, and times of uncertainty. I’ve discovered the good, the bad, and the disgusting in my own heart. At the same time, I have had the privilege of experiencing God’s grace and hearing the hearts of other church planting pastors and ministry leaders.

Church planting is a journey filled with joy, but it is not for the faint-hearted and prideful. We enter the ministry to win for Jesus, hoping to lose only a minimum. I’ll remind you in my session that only as you lose yourself will you win for Jesus and find amazing rest in Him. I’ll share honestly, personally, and deeply in hopes of you learning lessons that are often untold but yet incredibly true and life changing.

Let’s pray together that God meets with us in St. Louis.

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Scott is the executive pastor of Immanuel Nashville church in Nashville, Tennessee. He served as President of Acts 29 for six years and as Church Planting Director of C2C Network. He has served as a pastor since 1982, including 17 years as a Lead Pastor. Scott has been married to Jeannie for 37 years. They have two awesome sons, two beautiful daughters-in-law, and two amazing grandkids all living in Nashville.