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If you want a crash course in how messed up your heart is, plant a church.

It’s a sure fire way to surface all kinds of fear, anger and despair you had yet to uncover.  When I look back on my last six months as a church planting resident with The Summit Network, I realize just how much I’ve had to confront in my own heart.  I wish I could tell you those confrontations with self were always easy, quick and painless but that’s just not the way it works for me.  I can be a frustratingly slow learner.  But Jesus has been faithful and I wouldn’t trade what I’ve learned for anything.

Like most church planters, I’m an optimistic visionary at heart.

I love big dreams, inspiring visions and thoughts of what the future can and should look like.  I live in the world of what’s possible and I love to paint that picture for people.   And I really  love it when other people buy into the vision.  But when they don’t, all kinds of chaos threatens to break out in my heart.  Whether it’s someone not joining our launch team or someone not contributing financially or someone just seeming a little bored as I’m laying out my dream, I don’t always handle the rejection well.

Fear, anger and despair are right there to plant their little questions.  Maybe my vision stinks?  Maybe we’ll go broke and my son will starve?  Maybe the reason this person isn’t more excited is because they’re a totally selfish jerk who doesn’t love Jesus?  Maybe I’m not a good leader?  Maybe Summit needs to fix their assessment process and weed out guys like me?  And on and on and on…

All of that junk comes from a lack of belief in the promises of Jesus to us through the gospel.

He really did promise to build His church. (Matthew 16:18)  The Father really is glorified when we bear fruit. (John 15:8)  He knows every one of our weaknesses and promises sufficient grace. (2 Corinthians 12:9)   No plan of His can be thwarted. (Job 42:2)  And on and on and on…

I get worked up when I think this whole thing rests on my shoulders.  I’m tempted to shrink my vision, lower my dreams and downsize my hopes.  I’m tempted to cave to the fear, anger and despair that constantly lurks.  But when I remember Jesus, I’m okay with the uncertainty and the setbacks.  When I remember Him, I’m filled with hope for what God is going to do.  Planting Restoration City has forced me to learn how to fight fear with faith.  Maybe God will use a church plant to do the same in your life or maybe He’ll use something else.  Either way, I’m convinced it’s a lesson he wants all of us to learn.


John McGowan (@JohnGMcGowan) is a Church Planting Resident with The Summit Network and will be planting Restoration City Church in Washington, D.C. in the Summer of 2014. For more information about Restoration City visit RestorationCityDC.com