Self-Governing, Self-Supporting, Self-Propagating

There are 18 Comments

TOvermiller's picture

So happy for you brother. I fondly spending my wife and I spending a very special Sunday with your church, on the first Sunday of our honeymoon. Perhaps we'll get back there sometime for an anniversary Smile If you're ever in NYC, let me know! So happy for what God is doing there.

Thomas Overmiller
Pastor | www.studygodsword.com
Blog & Podcast | www.shepherdthoughts.com

Joel Tetreau's picture

Don,

This is a thrill. Please know many of us rejoice with you. God bless you and the congregation as you faithfully plow forward in your corner of the Lord's Vineyard. Straight Ahead!

jt

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

Don Johnson's picture

We are grateful to God for all he has done here, in spite of our many mistakes.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Jim and Thomas pretty much covered it, but my congrats also.

T Howard's picture

Congrats!

Jim's picture

There are some powerful lessons from this. Acknowledging there is probably no one way to plant a church!. Lessons or key learnings ... 

  • It took 30 years. 
  • It involved the dedication of one man (and his wife) over this period of time (and of course the unnamed laborers there as well)
  • He went and struggled as a tentmaker (real estate)
  • A lot of movement .. they met here .. .then they met there ... finally the building
Don Johnson's picture

I'd like to respond a bit to Jim's comments.

I think that it is important for a church-planter to have a commitment to doing whatever it takes and staying as long as it takes, although sometimes there are factors that might cause one to rethink and move on. In our case, in a sizeable metropolitan area, there was never a good reason for moving on, the potential was here all the time.

However, many mistakes were made through the years and if I were advising someone on it, or starting over, I would do things a different way. Tent-making is a valid approach, but it does slow you down, and it would be preferable to actually have a real marketable skill in order to succeed. I have had numerous jobs in my time, the best paying was real estate, but the disadvantage of real estate is that it is an all-consuming profession. You don't have time off and your income can be very cyclical. It isn't conducive to financial planning, consequently you do tend to think about money all the time.

If I had it to do over, I would tell my younger self to raise full support first, then plant the church. The attempt to raise the support while in the process of church planting was helpful, contributed to our ultimate success, but the way it was done was not the wisest. My friend Dr. Moritz once told me "You were an experiment that will never happen again." I agree with him.

In any case, we do rejoice in souls saved and having gotten so far by faith.

Your comments prompt further thoughts, so I think I'll write something more extensive on this and post it somewhere!

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Bert Perry's picture

One little thing to add is that it is at times remarkable when a man stays with one ministry for 30 years--pretty good when our typical pastoral tenure times seem to be 5 years or less, and we all too often joke about the "right boot of fellowship".

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

JJ Hoban's picture

Seriously?  30 years?  Where did the offerings go for the 30 years?  Something about that timeline isn't right..... 30 years, wow

Don Johnson's picture

JJ Hoban wrote:

Seriously?  30 years?  Where did the offerings go for the 30 years?  Something about that timeline isn't right..... 30 years, wow

Perhaps you could expand on this. I am not sure what you mean nor how to respond.

But yes, it has been thirty years (almost) from start to finish.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Bert Perry's picture

I would suggest that if we're surprised that it took many years to get things going, we ought to take a look at the biographies of 19th century missionaries.  Many of them worked for decades and left behind nothing for their supporting churches to see except for their graves--the fruit of their labors came later.

In this case, I'd guess the tithes went to facility rental, literature, advertising, a touch to support Don, and the like.  And I would presume as well that young believers might not instantly be tithing 10% and such, so a fair look at the accounts wouldn't necessarily indicate a lot of digits to the left of the decimal point.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Ron Bean's picture

I'm blessed by your patience and faithfulness. You need to write about the lessons you've learned so that other church planters can learn from your experiences.

I'm currently part of a church plant that began 8 years ago and graduated to self supporting status a little more than 2 years ago. Ours are a mixture. The core group moved here to start the church and most of them have moved on. (We're in a transient area where people seldom stay more than 3 years.) The majority are people who are Christians who've moved to the area and have made us their church home. A small but significant number are new converts to Christ. Where did your members come from?

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Don Johnson's picture

Ron Bean wrote:

The majority are people who are Christians who've moved to the area and have made us their church home. A small but significant number are new converts to Christ. Where did your members come from?

I would say that the majority of our members are folks who were already believers who have moved to us one way or another. Some moved into town from elsewhere, others moved from churches where (according to them) no Biblical preaching was to be found.

Still, a significant minority of our members are new converts.

One reason for slow growth, in my opinion, is that we have not pursued church transfer growth. We have tried to concentrate on winning and discipling new converts, though we of course will not turn away any living thing that draws breath! However, concentrating on converts has been difficult as my generation of Canadians has almost completely rejected Christianity as a conscious decision. (Many have had some kind of church experience, usually fairly liberal or Catholic, and rejected that. They assume all Christianity is the same and will have nothing to do with it.)

 

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Jim's picture

JJ Hoban wrote:

Seriously?  30 years?  Where did the offerings go for the 30 years?  Something about that timeline isn't right..... 30 years, wow

Seen at the Victoria International Airport

And in the parking lot

Don Johnson's picture

Though I do have a house with a fabulous view.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

TylerR's picture

Editor

God Bless your perseverance and faithfulness! 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?