by Kim Hammond
I was a church planter in my twenties. I knew what I didn’t want. I didn’t want Sunday to be the center of the experience, and I didn’t want to go to church, I wanted to BE the church. I loved the dreaming part of church planting. When I first started talking about it, I pictured cool worship and a funky place and lots of people listening to me.
Thankfully, as part of my church planting experience I decided to put myself through the Forge Mission Training Network in Melbourne. It changed my life as I came face to face with all my biases and default settings. I wanted to do something different. I talked about doing something different, but until I saw new things, experienced some new paradigms, and got coaching from people who challenged and stretched my thinking, I was always going to default to the old behavior.
The training completely messed with my ecclesiology, and I’m glad.
I had a great biblical foundation and church upbringing that was crucial to my formation;’ however I still carried baggage. For example, I believed women were co-partners in missionality, but my biases and default settings didn’t allow for the culture I was dreaming about.
My wife is a great missionary. When I met and fell in love with her, she was putting herself through University to work with people with physical and intellectual disabilities. She has worked in Cambodia changing the lives of refugees, and she’s even taken my oldest son with her. Even though she has no desire to be a senior pastor or preacher, she leads nonetheless through her life, integrity, and commitment to restoration and justice. Her love for people is outstanding.
Thank God my wife is allowed to live out her gifting in our church, because our church needs her. You see, often men have to think their way into relationships, but women (like my wife) just have it within them. Where men may have to step into it with conscious effort, most of the missional women I know carry it to everything.
We cannot silence the missional women in our churches without shortchanging the kingdom.
While this was part of my church-planting dream, if I could go back and do it again, I would empower the women in my community more from the very beginning. I wish I had not just talked about women as important, but had shown how important they were by championing them. I wish I had learned more from their natural practices and rhythms earlier.
Pushing back against our biases and defaults takes intentionality and effort. Every church planter dreams of a better expression of the church, but dreaming of a new culture is never enough to shift the tide—we must take action from day one so that the community we’re building can see the dream becoming a reality. It’s when we live out the dream consistently that new culture is born.