Stapleton is a growing neighborhood in Denver, built on the former site of our airport. As you walk through the open air malls, there are young trees in the middle of large circles of soil. Three metal stakes surround the base, and strands from each stake connect to the diminutive trunk. Though the tree is young and no more than 8 feet tall, it is obvious what Stapleton intends for these saplings to become. Tall, strong trees providing shade in the summer, and beauty throughout the year.
Imagine now this same setting…a large circle of soil, three metal stakes, three strands…connected to a seedling about one foot tall. A bit odd you might say? Not only that, but the seedling would either be ripped out of the ground or choked to death. These growing organisms benefit from support that is designed for their stage in the life cycle of a tree.
In our church network, Ancient Paths Church, we have begun to multiply churches into several neighborhoods in Denver. As we grow, our need for support also has grown. We have begun a monthly leadership meeting for house church leaders and shepherds to share God stories, encourage one another, share church family needs, and share lessons learned. With almost a half dozen churches in existence or starting soon, there were about 15 people in the room. This monthly meeting will be essential for us to stay connected, encouraged, and focused.
In Colorado at large, we have begun to gather together from across the state to accomplish similar goals. Previous posts here on this website talk about the blessing it has been to share our challenges, blessings, and lessons learned. in the past months, opportunities have also begun to arise for training through several of the church networks. It has seemed good to the Spirit and to many of us involved in leading networks to begin praying about how we can grow churches, disciples, and leaders tall and strong.
All of this has happened….quite organically. As the need has arisen, the Head of the church has placed it upon the heart of individuals to exercise their gifts for the benefit of the church.
It is far too easy too look for hard and fast models. “If you want a healthy church network have 1 local leadership meeting each month with 3 leaders from each church, 6 community gatherings per year, attend 2 national conferences, read 8 books…” Too many of us have experienced the fruitlessness of building a house in vain, where the Lord has not been the builder. It is also seductive when experiencing growth to take too much credit for that growth. It is true that the skilled gardener deserves her due, but also the One who provided the sun, rain, seed, soil, and fertilizer.
Are you looking for wisdom in how to grow your church sapling into a tall, strong tree? The Lord knows better than any other the condition of the soil and those seeds that grow best. He knows the gifts His Spirit has given to the members of the body, and following His lead will provide the best context for those gifts to thrive.
Pray for wisdom to know what supports your community needs. If you don’t see those supports available, perhaps you are the one to begin praying for them, and initiate offering them to others!
Do you have training opportunities or support ideas gained from your church networks? Leave a comment to this post and share how God is working.