Doubt and Church Planting

The following is a re-post from the Send Network. 

Send Network: Tell us about your church plant and when you all started meeting.

Andy Hall: Redemption City Church is a church of missional communities in Forsyth County, Ga. We began gathering as a missional community in the spring of 2014 and began our Sunday Gathering in September 2014. Our vision is to saturate Forsyth County with the gospel by making disciples and multiplying missional communities. For us, a missional community is a small group of people committed to growing in the gospel, living life in community and sharing the gospel on mission.

Often I find myself looking to my performance as the litmus test for success or failure, and the decisions I make are based on the fear of man’s rejection and the desire for their approval.

SN: Has doubt hit you at all stages of the church planting process, or are there particular times it has hit you the most?

AH: Yes. I would say that dealing with doubt has been a normal battle in every stage of church planting, not to mention in everyday life.

God, like a good Father, comes to me in the darkness of my doubt and reminds me that His love for me is not based on my own performance but of Jesus’ performance of grace and His calling on my life.

SN: In your deepest seasons of doubt, what have you found to be the best way of dealing with it?

AH: Often I find myself looking to my performance as the litmus test for success or failure, and the decisions I make are based on the fear of man’s rejection and the desire for their approval. It is in these seasons that my heart is led away from the gospel and into a mindset of either self-righteousness or despair. It is only when, by God’s grace, my heart is led back to the gospel that I am reminded once again of who God is and who He declares me to be because of what Jesus has done for me. It is in these moments of doubt, often accompanied by anxiety, where I am overcome by the love of God. God, like a good Father, comes to me in the darkness of my doubt and reminds me that His love for me is not based on my own performance but of Jesus’ performance of grace and His calling on my life.

SN: How do you avoid the comparison game with other church planters?

AH: To be very transparent, it is hard. Everyone (including myself) measures you based on performance, and as a result it is easy to allow your performance to define who you are. So if you are a church planter with a large, rapidly growing congregation you are defined as a high-capacity church planter and if your church plant is small and struggling you are defined as mediocre, at best. It is hard not to look at other church planters and compare yourself to them with a heart filled with either self-righteousness or discouragement. The truth is I don’t avoid it—I fight it! It is a daily fight to not just know the gospel, but to rest in the reality of it.

SN: In what ways has God used your doubt to remind you to rely on Him?

It is hard not to look at other church planters and compare yourself to them with a heart filled with either self-righteousness or discouragement. The truth is I don’t avoid it—I fight it! It is a daily fight to not just know the gospel, but to rest in the reality of it.

AH: God has used seasons of doubt to graciously expose the idols within my heart. My trust and confidence, at least in those moments, is not found in Him but in myself. I am constantly reminded of this when I find myself looking to my own performance and to man’s approval to find my identity, rather than resting in the new identity that I have already received in Christ.

SN: How would you encourage other church planters in their doubt?

AH: First, I would say to them the same thing I say to my people (and myself). You are not defined by what you do; you are defined by what Christ has done for you. If you are in Christ, you have been fully approved and loved by your Father in heaven, therefore you need not seek the approval of man nor fear their rejection (or your own). Second, there have been a few resources, outside of the Bible, that have been very helpful to me in dealing not just with doubt, but exposing other idols in my heart. Two of the most helpful books for me have been, Tim Chester’s book You Can Change, and Tim Keller’s book Counterfeit Gods. If you have not already, I would encourage all church planters to pick these books up and read them.

About the Author: Andy Hall

Andy Hall graduated from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and has served in various pastoral roles in churches in Kentucky, Georgia and South Carolina. He, his wife Robin and their three kids currently live in Cumming, Ga where he has been the planting pastor of Redemption City Church since September 2014. You can find more about Redemption City Church at www.redemptioncityga.com or follow him on twitter at @AndyDHall