The Tale of Two Kingdoms

Since beginning the journey of becoming a church planter over 5 years ago I have learned a lot about my pride, selfishness, and more importantly God’s Kingdom. I do not write this from the perspective that I have it all figured it out or have all the answers. But one thing is true and that is God has changed my heart and given me a bigger vision for His Kingdom! 

I am naturally very competitive, so when I began the process of planting a church I wanted to be the best, biggest, and most effective church planter who had walked the earth since the Apostle Paul. The first year or two, I wore myself out playing the comparison game with other leaders. I would worry that some other church might take my people. I feared that another guy might plant an effective church close to my church. 

Through that process God began to change my heart as I and few friends felt led to start a church planting network to help start more churches. It was through this journey that God gave me massive opportunities to help other guys start churches. And it was through the church planting network that God connected me with more and more people who wanted to plant churches--many within a 10-15 minute drive of our church. The funny thing is that God knew my pride problem, so He opened the door for our church to help other new churches.

As such we have given resources, served, and trained five other churches that could be considered as “fishing in the same pond as we are,” but we love helping them and pray that God brings more churches alongside to help serve and give too. 

There was one particular guy named Philip Thurman who helped us as a church and helped change my perspective. He didn’t care where you were planting; he wanted to help you any way he could. The church I planted was only a few minutes from his church and we had a similar style and ministry vision, but he still helped us constantly and his church even sent us money! Philip grew up overseas where the majority of the population was Muslim and Hindu. When he moved to the states all he knew was that believers in foreign countries do whatever it takes to reach whoever they can and they join with any other believer who is working to share the name of Jesus. I love this about him and I thank God for what I have learned and am learning from him. 

It was through him and others that I began to see the “Big C” Church--God’s kingdom--as more important that just my church. Oddly enough five years later Philip and I are now partners and co-pastors in leading Vertical Church. We truly believe in helping all church plants and existing churches that are sharing the name of Jesus in any and every way we possibly can. 

Vertical Church Launch Service September 2014 at Madison Central High School 

Vertical Church Launch Service September 2014 at Madison Central High School 

My prayer and challenge for you and for me is that we would be people who would not buy into the idea that our “kingdom” is most important. Rather, I pray we would affirm that God’s Kingdom is the highest priority and all churches that are sharing the hope of Jesus in a biblically sound way are important; thus, we must see each other as teammates rather than competitors.

We are all on the same team, but we have been given a different position to play on the field. Some of us are running backs, others defensive backs, some are lineman, and the list goes on. But we all are working to defeat the same enemy. The problem is that too often we are so consumed with “our church” that we block each other on the field. This is so damaging because we are killing our own teammates! This is not God’s desire for His Church. 

I am a Florida Gator fan and it was extremely embarrassing one game when a player was caught on tape blocking his own teammate on a play. Is this what we look like to the world around us who is already disenfranchised with the idea of church? Please pray that God would continue to change my heart and help me truly be a Kingdom leader. And pray that for yourself and other leaders as well. 

Please let us know how the 242 Network can serve your church. 

Live Sent,
Eric Smith

242 Network Director