by Lacey Randall
Over ten years ago, God stirred my husband’s heart a desire to plant a church. I was much slower in getting this desire to plant, but as usual, God was patient and continually nudged my heart to prepare me for this next adventure He was inviting us to be a part of. It was an article by Timothy Keller called “Why Plant Churches” that started my husband, Jon, to consider planting. It’s a great article and I recommend reading it, but one of the many things that stuck out to Jon after reading it was the statistic that planting a new church is the fastest way to reach nonbelievers with the Truth about Jesus. That year, we had just moved to Grand Junction, CO so as Jon thought about planting and prayed about planting, he assumed it would happen there. It was also at this time that different people in our church there started to ask us if we ever thought about planting a church. I had not.
I had always figured we would have ministry jobs in established churches. Honestly, at that time in our lives, the thought of church planting and everything it entailed scared me! Established churches felt safer (which isn’t necessarily true) because established churches come with a paycheck. As I look back on our journey of church planting and getting to this point, I can see how ten years ago God started to move in our hearts and prepare our hearts for the adventure of planting. Our deepest desire for our lives is to give them away for Jesus. We long to see people come to know Jesus the way we know Jesus and invite Him into their lives.
Over the last seven years our hearts for planting and telling others about Jesus only grew in intensity, yet God had us wait. We knew church planting was in our future, we just didn’t know any of the details. Last year in August, God began to reveal His plan of church planting for our life. As always I had some wrestling to do, but once I surrendered my will and told God yet again that He has control of my life, a peace fell over me and my heart was ready for whatever God would ask of us. The next question was with whom are we planting God’s church?
After we watched from afar our friend, Gavin, launch a new church called Citylight Church in Omaha, we saw that they were doing things differently with having two lead pastors. I remember Jon having a phone call with Gavin one time and they talked through the benefits of co-leadership and after that call Jon knew that if he were ever to lead a church one day, he would want to have a co-leadership. So why co-leadership? Why is this style so special? Short answer – Church leadership is always plural. Elders are never mentioned in the singular. Nobody has all the spiritual gifts. Jesus is the lead pastor of the church. Co-leading pastors is not the only way to express this – but it is a helpful expression of making sure the church is centered around people following Jesus and not a lead pastor. Co-leadership is not the best way or the only way to lead a church, but it is the way that we feel God has equipped us for in our church planting journey. Co-leadership takes honest communication, it takes humility, it takes love for your co-lead and love for the people God has called you to serve. Co-leadership is not for every pastor, but we knew it is for us. We saw it done successfully through Citylight Omaha and through our sister church plants.
Jon and I met a couple within the Citylight Family after being introduced to them by one of our Pastors. Keith and Elizabeth (Beth) Brauneis had been Church Planting Residents at the Fort Collins plant for over a year. Once we began the conversation with them in person, we all felt we were the people God was bringing together to do something really cool for the Kingdom. Over the next few months we spent time getting to know each other, praying together, and dreaming about what God was calling us into.
Jon and I didn’t know much about Greeley, Colorado when we first heard of this town being a possible location to plant a church. We decided to take a vision trip out to Greeley in order to fully get a sense of the area and the community. While in Greeley, we visited University of Northern Colorado’s campus. When we heard that there are roughly 12,500 students on that campus, yet no churches have been ON the campus to reach these students, my heart felt a burning need and burden to get to this city and to get on this campus. Greeley is growing fast and there is a huge need for Gospel Centered churches. A desire to tell Greeley about Jesus became our new burden. We came home feeling an urgency for that community. Everywhere we turned we felt like people were asking for help. By the end of last year, both Jon and I and Keith and Beth said ‘yes’ to moving to Greeley to plant a church there together.
Walking through all we have so far, including an assessment process, hasn’t been as nerve racking knowing that Keith and Beth were going through it with us! The peace I had knowing a familiar face was meeting me there was something only God could give. Co-leadership of a church has so many beautiful parts, but this may be my current favorite- knowing this couple is by our side and for us every step of the way. I feel like we have known each other forever. God has written such a beautiful story for our families already! This move will be hard. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that. But knowing that this family will be meeting us on the ground and we will have each other…PEACE! Going to bed feeling so grateful. Grateful for this beautiful story of church planting and dependence on Jesus that God has been writing and continues to write.
We will head to Greeley sometime this summer and look to launch a church in 2023. We are so excited for the future but there are a lot of moving parts to this adventure. Please pray for us and the Brauneis and between us, our seven little girls that are along for this journey. God has something amazing planned for Greeley and we feel honored that He has invited us to be a part of it. We are thankful for how God wrote our story in bringing us to the Brauneis (said- brown eyes) and we are excited to serve the Greeley, CO community together.
So, why church planting? Because God has called us to it and it’s one of the best ways to reach lost people for Jesus. If our whole goal in this life is to tell everyone about Jesus, so really then, why not church planting?