Learn, Pray, Join: Playing the long game

Jessica Schrock-Ringenberg is a missional discipleship leader and consultant. She and her husband Shem, recently bought a heating and cooling business in the Kansas City area where they live with their three rambunctious children and hope to cultivate a simple church movement.

I’ve never been a fan of anything that moves slowly — movies, sports, books. I have a classic case of attention deficit disorder in the most undiagnosed form. I want things to move and to move quickly. I get bored.

That is why planting non-traditional forms of church appeal to me. Not only do I have the ability to influence the DNA of the churches forming, but I also don’t have to sit through long committee meetings to do it.

I’m realizing just how much the joke is on me. Six months ago, my family moved to a new community where we didn’t know anyone and began learning how to run a new business. We are learning new schools, new traditions and new expectations.

We have gone from a family who loves new experiences to people surviving the constant throes of newness! I like new challenges, just not all at once every single day!

But the gift of this season is learning how my weaknesses in traditional ministry settings follow me into church planting. One of the reasons I believed pastoring a traditional congregation was not for me is that pastoral care is a challenge for me. I can do it, it just takes a lot out of me. Now I am realizing how much my task-oriented nature hinders my ability to make relationships as a church planter. I have a long to-do list, and I have such a hard time slowing down to strike up casual conversation with the person at the gym or the other parents at school.

I have found how essential prayer has to be in the day-to-day rhythms of life. My prayers have become, “God, you know me. You made me. You know I am not wired to just go up to people and start talking (that’s my husband Shem’s gift, not mine). I need help. You have to do it.” Suddenly women at the gym started coming up to me and moms at the preschool started asking for my number. God did it. God answered.

Luke 10:2 has become my lifeline, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few, ask (better translations are beseech, beg) the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” As business owners we are realizing it is hard to make the workers care about the business as much as you do. At the end of the day, it is your business, not theirs — it is your profit, your bottom line, your reputation, not theirs. You will do everything in your power to aid the workers to get the work done and do it right.

This is God’s harvest, not mine. God’s field, not mine. At the end of the day God is more concerned about getting the work done and doing it right than even I am.

I just need to continue to ask for what I need! Praise be to God!

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This post is part of MC USA’s Peace Church Planting: Learn, Pray, Join initiative.

During the months of March and April, we invite you and your congregation to pray

  • for MC USA church plants to grow
  • for those who are sensing a call to church planting
  • for active church planters

Consider what part you might play in Peace Church Planting:

  1. Sponsor a church planter to attend Sent 2019
    The Sent gathering is an important time for peace church planters from diverse communities to gather for worship, inspiration, resourcing, networking and empowerment. Scholarships to attend Sent 2019 are offered to planters on a case by case need for those who aren’t receiving compensation for working with a church. Unlike larger church plant networks who fund church planters, many Anabaptist church planters are bi-vocational and preparing for Sunday in addition to other jobs. Taking time off work to travel and participate in Sent may require taking a day without pay, in addition to expenses of travel and lodging.

    • $65 will pay for one person’s registration
    • Any amount helps contribute to the cost of a round-trip airline ticket
    • $320 will pay for two nights of lodging, where conversation and networking happens in the “off-hours”
  1. Support church planting efforts in MC USA, with the goal of planting nine new MC USA congregations in 2019, through prayer and the ongoing Church Planting fund: mennoniteusa.org/give/churchplanting
  2. Are you being called to peace church planting? Find resources for church planters, learn more and consider attending the Sent Conference at Mennonitemission.net/ChurchPlanting.