I’ve been meaning, for a while, to try to record our journey of planting River City Church. There are a number of reasons for this 1) so that we don’t forget what an incredible journey we’re on;
2) to remind ourselves it is Jesus’ idea and not our own;
3) to list some of the ways that God speaks to and guides His people, and lastly
4) to encourage others to be bold in asking God what plans He has for you.
Hope you enjoy reading!
Around two years ago Steve, the lead elder of Jubilee Church (where we were involved in leadership), returned from Sabbatical excited about church planting. He believed we were called to be a church that started other churches. Statistically, starting new churches is one of the most effective ways of reaching people who don’t know Jesus with the good news that He loves them, wants to know them, and that He has the power to change their lives.
Significant Prayer meeting
Jubilee gathered to pray together and ask God where He might want us to start a new church. There were world maps, national maps and local maps for people to pray over and ask God to speak about. We also had large sheets of blank paper out so that people could write down or draw what they felt God was saying, where did He wants us to go?
We are a church that believes the gifts of the Holy Spirit are still active amongst us today. The bible tells us the Holy Spirit can ‘speak’ to us in a number of ways; through what is written in the bible (a particular verse, story or situation in the bible might suddenly seem to ‘jump out’ at you and speak into what you are going through, whilst being careful not to take parts of the bible out of context), pictures (we might ‘see’ in our minds eye, like a sudden thought that seems to pop into your head from nowhere), or words (we might ‘hear’ in our mind or actually physically hear); through other people, circumstances or ‘coincidences’.
As we began to ask God where He might want to start a new church we recorded the things people had felt Him impress on them. The leaders went away and sifted through everything that was brought and believed the following words and pictures were of significance:
An Egg with two yolks
Someone had ‘seen’ a picture in their mind whilst praying about the new church. The picture was of an egg and inside it contained two yolks. Through this they felt God was saying that the two churches (Jubilee and the new one to be planted) would relate closely to each other. They would be similar and together part of a whole.
Two uprights of Humber Bridge
Someone from outside Jubilee gave us this picture just after the prayer meeting. Sometime before, they had had been walking by the Humber Bridge and had looked at the bridge and felt God begin to ‘speak’ to them as they looked at it. (When this happens it can be as if God begins to download a thought into your mind that has a ‘sharper’, more profound quality to it, that sets it apart from your own ordinary thoughts). The person said God began to say to him ‘Just like there are two strong uprights to a bridge that work together to bring people across the water from one place to another; one day there will be two strong churches in the city working together to bring people from a place where they don’t know Jesus to a place where they do’. Again we felt this was telling us the two churches would stand side-by-side and work together.
Sisters sharing DNA but different personalities
Another person felt God speak to them through a dream that they had (again I have heard people say that they know a dream is from God when it has a ‘sharper’, a clarity or they are able to remember it far better than their ‘normal’ dreams). In the dream the lady said she could see two sisters that shared DNA but had different personalities. Somehow in the dream she felt God say that these were like two churches, Jubilee and its plant. These churches would be similar, they shared DNA but they outworked it through different personalities. After weighing this up the Jubilee leaders felt this was significant in helping us understand how the two churches we’re going to relate to each other. Not as parent-child but as sisters, equal and side-by-side.
EAST, EAST, EAST
After praying through all of these things God has said at the prayer meeting and from other sources, the Jubilee Elders took a retreat day ahead of a conference they were planning to attend. It seemed God was saying that the two churches would work together and closely relate to each other. One of the areas we had prayed over at the prayer meeting has been East Hull and we had all been surprised to learn East Hull had around 90,000 residence and few churches. This had stirred our hearts to ask if God was saying we should plant a new church into the same city but in the East. John (my husband) had joked that it would be great if God made it clearer and that he would somehow say EAST, EAST, EAST at the conference the next day!
And, you may have guessed it – that is exactly what happened!
During the conference a lady from our church who didn’t have a clue what the elders had discussed the day before came up to John. She explained that since the prayer meeting (now a few months past), she had not been able to get some words out of her head that she knew God was asking her to tell the Elders. She said “I can’t explain it but God wants me to say to you EAST, EAST, EAST. Does that make any sense?”
Suffice to say the Elders felt God had just confirmed Jubilee should plant a church into EAST Hull! The next question was who would lead the church plant? Find out how that came to be us in Part 2 – coming soon.