In this sixth entry to the church planting series, we hear from Jonathan Meek, musician and church planter into Spokane, Washington. I met Jonathan last Autumn in Missoula, where he has been an elder for 14 years. I had been travelling around the Northwest with Dave Henson and we spent a day in Missoula meeting Jonathan and Josh Yakos - I spoke that evening at their midweek youth gathering.
Hearing about his future plant, there was a lot of crossover with what we had come from in Russia. That part of Washington state, and especially Spokane itself, is a very big Russian area - we even saw roadside adverts written in Russian! And of course their timing is also similar in that they made the move in the same summer that things started here in Tallinn.
What Jonathan has to say is helpful, especially for those planting within their own country and culture, as well as those coming from long term 'full time' staff positions in an established church to go and start all over again!
Here is what he had to say:
When did you know you were called to be a church planter?
I began suspecting I was called to be a church planter when I was about 25 years old. My wife and I were a part of a great church-planting culture but it wasn't until my wife and I were driving through the city of Spokane, Washington about ten years ago that it seriously crossed my mind to actually lead a church planting team. It dawned on me that day that I really loved the city of Spokane enough to leave my job and move my family. The heart was there but the timing wasn't right. It's only now - ten years later - that we've just moved!
In New Frontiers, we talk about building on an Apostolic and Prophetic foundation - how has that been seen through your situation?
We waited because we strongly believe in apostolic and prophetic ministry being not only foundational but also an active part in our lives. It wasn't until the past three years that we felt a strong prophetic confirmation to make the move. Multiple prophetic words from apostolic men really shook us loose from the church in Missoula that I served for 14 years as a worship leader and elder. As soon as we began actually talking to other leaders about Spokane as a serious "when, not if" the overwhelming confirmation to go was just that - wonderfully overwhelming! The wise counsel from so many excellent leaders within our Newfrontiers family has been vital to making this a healthy and positive move for my family.
You've moved within the same country with your family - tell us what challenges you are facing and how you prepared for this move?
Though we haven't moved far - only a three hour drive from Missoula to Spokane - our children have spent their entire lives living in Missoula. Having a 14 year old just beginning high school, a 12 year old beginning middle school and a 9 year old starting 4th grade, the well-being and social adjustment for our kids has been at the forefront of our minds from day one. We took the kids on trips to Spokane over the past year to introduce them to cultural and sporting events in the city, visited other churches with them, visited local schools and parks, and spent as much time as we could getting to know about the area. Along the way we discovered that Spokane is a running city and we love to run! Our oldest two kids are now running cross country in their schools, which has helped them make friends. One of the cross country coaches is a part of our planting team, which has also helped with the transition. We (and others) have invested much prayer into simply asking God to go before us and show us ways to connect into the community, and to help our kids connect positively as well. We've only been here for 7 weeks but we are thanking God for a smooth transition! As we move forward we'll keep talking and praying with our children about how God has put them here on purpose to see their own friends and schools impacted with the gospel of Jesus Christ! Having the kids on board and really a part of the planting team (not just along with mom and dad) will be vital for their health.
What advantages does having financial support for at least the first year have in the life of a church plant?
We have limited financial support in place for our first year, which gives us a bit of breathing room without allowing us to be completely dependent on outside sources. Since we are planting within our own nation we are able to work, so both Becca and I are working. We felt that we wanted to build locally and rely on God establishing us within Spokane. (This model is more highly reproduceable as well.) I am certainly not opposed to outside support but am building with as much local support as we can. The downside to this model is that I spend much time focusing on my job and less time focusing on the church plant than I would like. However, God is giving both Becca and I excellent connections THROUGH our careers that we expect to result in changed lives!
How can someone pray for you and your church?
Please pray for excellent and ongoing connections for us that result in salvation coming to many families and fresh life breathed into the fabric of Spokane, Washington! Pray for great wisdom as we balance family life, business life and church planting. Pray for God to establish us into Spokane and for Grace Church Spokane to become a life-giving, church-planting, nation-impacting church!
Thanks for that Jonathan!
Jonathan is a part of Grace Church Spokane, Washington.
www.gracechurchspokane.org (not live yet)
Jon's blog: www.jonnydavids.blogspot.com
Series so far:
1 - The Hague, Netherlands
2 - Stockholm, Sweden
3 - Riga, Latvia
4 - Smiltene, Latvia
5 - Helsinki, Finland