LifeWay Pastors is glad to welcome Cody Deevers, church planter with Valley Life | Arrowhead (Phoenix, AZ) as a regular contributor. Cody pastored in Oklahoma for a number of years before moving to Arizona to plant with Valley Life. A graduate of SWBTS, Cody and his wife have three children.
Cody brings the perspective of an established pastor who decided to accept the church planter challenge well outside the Bible Belt. Valley Life is unique in that it is a church planting network without a mega-church as the mother ship.
We are scrambling…and we haven’t even launched yet.
This past Sunday teams from our not-even-out-of-the-womb-yet-church—Valley Life | Arrowhead—gathered up with our sister church—Valley Life | Surprise—to observe and assist as we prepare for our first preview service on Oct. 2. It was a great, great day! And it raised issues. As a church planter, you live on feedback. Issues need to be raised. If not, those issues never get addressed, a toxic culture is set, and then you have a myriad of problems. So, the following are a couple of issues, a couple of solutions, and a couple of wins.
Issues and solutions
Issue #1– A full third of our team didn’t show up. It would be easy for me to throw them under the bus, but ultimately it is on me. People’s lives are messy. I get it. But, my job as a leader is to cut through mess and run toward clarity. My job is to communicate and create a culture of communication. My job is build a community of conviction, not just a community of convenience.
Planting churches is not convenient. “Planting churches does not get done in our spare time,” as my church planter friend, Jason Vance, likes to say.
Solution: I contacted directly and/or had their team leader contact those who didn’t show. We clearly expressed our expectations of their participation for the next two training sessions at Surprise. They may say, “No,” but we have eradicated the “I didn’t know” excuse.
Issue #2- We lost our onsite storage space at our future location. Setup and tear-down would have been much easier with onsite storage. Now, we have to buy a trailer, drive and pick up the trailer two hours away, move equipment into the trailer, get decals for the trailer (it’s a giant mobile billboard, why not leverage it?), get locks for the doors, a hitch lock, and find a secure location to store during the week…scrambling.
Solution: Wes Sanders. Wes is like Red in The Shawshank Redemption: he knows how to get stuff. Wes constantly buys, sells, and trades. Wes is a Craigslist master. If anyone in our church could locate an enclosed trailer on short notice, Wes could. And he did. In two days! God showed me, once again, that He loves this church more than I do. And He has sovereignly placed people in this church alongside me that will give, sweat, and bleed for it. And they have skills, talents, abilities, and connections and are more than happy to use them to build this church.
Now the wins
Our neighbors came to church with us. New neighbors came to church and brought four more family members with them!
Team members brought their friends, and those friends brought others. All told, we had 43 folks gather with us to learn how to set up for church in a school, experience worship at a school, see someone baptized in a water trough, tear it all down, empty the trough, pack it away in a trailer, and go home exhausted and praising God our friends came to church.
We may not be out of the womb, but we are kicking! Now, to follow-up with all these new people.
Here’s the promo video from Valley Life | Arrowhead featuring Cody and Brian Bowman, pastor of Valley Life | Surprise.[vimeo 171440329 w=640 h=360]