“Well, this has been harder than I thought.”
Some people call it church planting, while many pastors and leaders affectionately dub this the “whirlwind.” It’s the wild journey pastors go through on the way to fulfilling that beautiful dream God has sowed deep inside their hearts. The dream includes building a website, opening bank accounts, buying equipment, constantly asking for money, conversing with school administrations (for possible location options), etc.
The truth is, it’s a lot to think about. It is inevitable to feel tired, weary and discouraged. The whirlwind of the 10,000 little things you need to consider and execute in planting can truly take your breath away. But there is one thing in the process that has constantly driven confidence, belief, energy and motivation for me to keep going as a church planter: the mother church.
In church planting, the “mother church,” or “sending church,” plays an important role in a daughter church’s success.
Prior to becoming a church planter, I had the privilege to work at Skyline Church in La Mesa, California. It was there where my calling, gifting and vision were solidified before setting out to plant Captivate Church. In the almost four years I was on staff at Skyline, I had the pleasure of leading our young adult ministry, overseeing our evening service and sitting on the executive team.
As I lead my own church today, I often think back on the valuable experiences and moments I encountered while serving there. Watching influential leaders like Dr. Jim Garlow, Skyline’s former lead pastor, and Dr. Jeremy McGarity, current lead pastor, was the ultimate training ground for gaining leadership perspective. Captivate Church would not be what it is today without the investment of Skyline Church. When we were gearing up to plant Captivate, I hoped for a prayer of blessing from our lead pastor, board and staff. But we got more than that. Skyline supported us by giving $100,000 and sending people to help form a launch team. This generosity and heart for multiplication blew me away. We have started well as a church, but the truth is, it is largely due to the support we received from our mother church.
After planting in September 2018 near downtown San Diego, I was wildly encouraged at what God did: from giving us favor to meet on Sundays at a local high school when we couldn’t find a home, to local churches putting us on their stage asking their folks for prayer and funds for us. God was meeting our needs in the most unexpected ways. We saw our small groups, as well as our serve team, double in the first two months, as both seasoned believers and new Christians began to get involved. In our first 10 weeks, we saw 114 people give their lives to Jesus and start getting involved in community, discipleship and service.
While statistics encourage us, the stories of life transformation bring us to tears:
- A woman with years of chronic neck pain walked out of Captivate one Sunday pain free after receiving prayer.
- A staff member’s four-year-old son was tragically run over by a truck, but he walked out of the hospital less than three weeks later and has fully recovered.
- We saw someone receive salvation soon after a failed suicide attempt.
- We saw God bring several marriages back together and give hope to others struggling with loneliness and depression.
- More than 100 people have stepped into their purpose and calling by serving the church family and community all before Captivate turned six months old.
But what God has done since has absolutely blown us away.
We had raised $1 million in cash this last summer in an effort to purchase a building. One week before celebrating our one-year anniversary as a church family, we got the keys to our new building.
Since moving into our new home, we now see over 600 people in attendance weekly and just celebrated the 250th person coming to Christ in salvation since our launch! God has done exceedingly more than we could ever ask or imagine in just one year as a church.
As I reflect on what God has done in 365 days, I am both full of fiery excitement as I look ahead to what is coming and full of overwhelming gratitude as I look back on where we came from.
It brings me such joy to know that Skyline will always be a part of our story. The reality is, every single win we have is also Skyline’s win, as the church watches its fruit grow on our tree. Because Skyline answered the call to be a multiplying church, Captivate will do the same: become a mother church. We will do for others what was done for us because our mother church modeled it first. We must.
The question is: Will your church do the same? What volunteers, leaders or pastors are in your midst that God might be calling to raise up and send out? Somewhere a daughter church is waiting to be adopted.
Weston Stutz is lead pastor at Captivate Church.