Conception & Birth

It was mid July in Louisiana when I began coming to terms with planting Vestige Church. My wife called me to the bathroom, waving a home pregnancy test, the look on her face was one of both excitement and fear. She wasn’t the only one that had mixed emotions at the conception of our second son. I was totally ready to be a dad again, but the uncanny timing of Vestige Church’s conception simultaneous to this new baby, had me searching for roots, not the uncertainty of planting a church.

When Lisa was pregnant with our boys, I came to a point where the excitement of their arrival, gave way to the weight of being their daddy. I could describe the calling to plant a church the same way. Initially, you’re full of hope, excitement, love, and anticipation, but concern, doubt, and worry creep in as well. Seeing the little blob on the ultrasound screen for the first time, was like the first meeting Vestige had with fourteen people at a Starbucks. As I gazed at that blob, I wondered how God could create something so beautiful- and that He would use me to do it! I felt the same awe and gratitude when it came to planting Vestige. But in babies and churches, conceiving is the fun part. Each week produces up, downs, and sometimes a sort of gravity-defying combination.

As we got closer to our baby boy’s arrival, I felt something I never expected to feel: loneliness. After my role as assistant pastor for several years, loneliness was something I felt inoculated to. It was like my calling had pushed me to the precipice of some mountain, and I was left feeling uncertain, flapping in the wind. One of my church planting coaches reminded me of when God told Habakkuk to “write the vision…and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.” So I began writing –in blogs, in a personal journal, and a plan for Vestige for the days ahead. God used the faithful men in my life, to direct the overabundance of emotion and passion I had (and still sometimes have!), to a task that would begin to bring clarity to the vision God had given us. The more I wrote, the more God gave me focus and certainty in the midst of uncertainty.

With a renewed clarity of vision, we packed up our home, sold it, and moved to city my heart had long since been residing in. A group of about fifteen people helped us unload all our belongings into our new home, which was in complete darkness because the electric company couldn’t get the power turned on in time. We spent the next three nights in a hotel room with our five month old and six year old. The funny thing was, we loved it. It was crazy hard, but we were here.

If you have kids, then you know the way you sometimes convince yourself that after the birth of your baby, it’s going to be better than the pregnancy was. Then you discover that once your baby is able to use the lungs God gave it, you have a whole new set of challenges, not the least of which is sleep. Well, I thought once we moved to Monroe, God would take it by storm. He didn’t. For the first few months, we felt pressed to pray and wait on God to show up and do His part,  feeling we had done ours.

While trying to survive being a new dad and a bivocational pastor, I realized I was just attempting to make it untill we got past the hard stuff, and got on to real parenthood and real ministry. Watching our baby grow, God clearly showed me we didn’t need to wait for either, they where all around us. Resolving to be what we already were, we adopted the phrase: “be the church”. It was no longer necessary for us to wait for more people, or less difficult circumstances, we just had to find tangible ways to be what God had already made us to be. We adopted a local school that was struggling in a bad area, and committed to praying for the staff and students, as well as blessing them with gifts and treats throughout the year. This has provided us a way of pouring  into our community as a group- being the hands and feet of Jesus together.

It was no longer necessary for us to wait for more people, or less difficult circumstances, we just had to find tangible ways to be what God had already made us to be.
January 2015 we launched Vestige Groups, our version of small groups. They’re the first thing we’ve done that we don’t plan to change. Seeing them take shape, is like watching the first walls of house being erected, or the green of a sapling break from the dirt. Our journey is nowhere near completion, and maybe we’re just waiting for the next hard thing. With our kids, it’s probably the pre-teen years and terrible twos, and with the church, God only knows. But for now, we take comfort in knowing God has our backs. He is building His Church, and He won’t fail.
Church planter and Pastor Caleb Tarr can be followed on Twitter, @PastorCalebTarr, and you can check out Vestige Church in Monroe, LA, online.

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