As we continue our series about peeking Inside the Mind of a Church Planter this week, we head 400 miles east to Spartanburg, South Carolina to hear from a buddy of mine, Jason Mills. He’s a super cool guy that I’ve known for years from Calvary Albuquerque. He served in many ways there then headed out to Montreal, Canada where he helped with a church plant out there. He started services at his new church right around the same time that our services started. It’s been really cool to be able to bounce ideas off of each other and pray for each other as we go through some of the same things 400 miles apart!
Check out Calvary Spartanburg’s website HERE.
Check out Jason’s blog HERE.
And of course here’s my interview with him:
1. Who are you?
I’m Jason Mills. I’m from Campobello, a town of about 400 people near Spartanburg, in the upstate of South Carolina. My wife, Andrea, and I have been married for over 6 years and we have 2 kids Jake (3 ½) and Sophie (2). Also, I’ve always secretly wanted to be a super hero and I am left handed.
2. What is your church & what’s the vision behind it?
Calvary Spartanburg. Our vision is three-fold;
Our vision is for people to Know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Our vision is for Christians to Grow through verse by verse teaching of the Bible and through one-on-one discipleship.
Our vision is for disciples to Go into the whole world to tell others of Christ’s redeeming love.
3. How long have you been meeting and where did you start?
We started November 8, 2009 at the YMCA in Spartanburg, South Carolina (so we started about month ago.) My wife and I started praying about God’s vision for this church plant in March of 2008.
4. Why plant a church in your city?
I’ve had a heart for my people, Southerners, for a long time. But it wasn’t until 2008 that I realized God wanted to use me to reach the people of the South. As I prayed for God to give me vision for the South, He made two things clear, plant a church and do it in Spartanburg.
I’m thrilled that I get to minister to the community I grew up in and understand, but I’m also acutely aware of the problems I face. Cultural Christianity, mistrust of non-denominational churches, and church burnout are prevalent. Familiarity cuts both ways, I guess.
5. How can people get plugged into your church?
In our current space we only get 15 minutes to setup before our service starts. Anyone is welcome to come early to set up chairs, the coffee table, or the sound system. We are also looking for volunteers to be accountability assistants in our children’s ministry.
6. What advice do you give to others wanting to plant a church?
Don’t strive and don’t stress. The church you are planting is God’s church; let Him build it. That doesn’t mean you won’t be very busy or have to do the hard work of planting a church. Rather, don’t try to build it in your strength or by your own clever plans, and don’t freak out when things are not going the way you had envisioned. The problems that arise are His, and so are the successes, not yours. Do the work and trust God.
7. What/who have been some of your most important resources so far?
Kevin Miller of course! No really, but I’ve also gotten a lot out of the blog posts at The Calvary Church Planting Network. A good place to start is the article Ten Things I Wish Someone Told Me. The CCP Network also has a website www.calvarychurchplanting.org with some more resources that aren’t on the blog.
However, the best resource I’ve had so far has been experience. For the last 5 years I was a part of a church planting team in Montreal, Quebec. Those 5 years were absolutely the best training ground I could have asked for. If you have a chance to come alongside someone to help them plant, before you take the plunge, do it.
8. Have you learned any lessons the hard way? What was one?
Oh Yeah, wait for the Lord’s leading. Every time a have disobeyed, finessed, or nudged the line with this lesson I have regretted it. I’ve planned ill-fated ministries, looked the fool, and cause pain in the lives of others as a result of ignoring this simple principle. My advise, is don’t get in a hurry to get into new things or ministry because you feel like nothing is happening, be patient and wait for the Lord. Waiting for a God sparked ministry will always produce more fruit than one that is born sooner but out of a feeling of urgency. Like the old saying goes “A fool in a hurry drinks tea with a fork”.
9. If you did it all again, what is one thing would you do differently?
Calvary Spartanburg is so new that I don’t think enough time has elapsed to see some of the more long-term mistakes I’ve already made or will make. However, I will say this, there are 2 things I could always do more of: pray more and study more.