Part 2 of our Honest Thoughts of a Church Planter Series features Pastor Scott Kearney who
leads The Well Church in Nashua, NH. He talks about how he knew God placed the call on his life to plant a church early on but when it came time to take action, his fear of the risks almost kept him from fulfilling his calling. When he finally surrendered, God proved himself faithful and helped Scott and his team plant the church that he pastors to this day. He encourages new church planters to obey God’s calling on their life and to trust that God will provide. Read his full interview below:
1. How did you know that you were called to plant a church?
Scott: When my family met Jesus for the first time and gave their lives [to Him] one by one back when I was 8, God planted an early seed to see more people find Jesus the way we did. I knew I had to be a part of that effort. Those seeds germinated in college when I helped launch a men’s ministry that exploded on campus and saw over 100 guys get right with Jesus. But it wasn’t until after seminary and early pastor ministry that God put church planting on my heart. I wasn’t interested because of all the risks. I was more interested in satellite campus ministry, but all the doors closed for that each time I pursued it. A church in NY invited me to pastor an existing satellite campus that had everything I wanted -- 500 people, a new building, a huge budget, a stable income, etc. The night I was going to sign the paperwork, God confronted me about His calling me to pastor in NH - a calling I knew was on my life - and I surrendered the stability to be faithful to the call. It was a very hard decision, and one that I thought we’d regret, but God was faithful. It was then that I was invited by a mentor of mine to go to the Exponential conference in Orlando, FL for some “training.” He knew it was all church planting, but I just needed a getaway to get some headspace. Every talk at that conference knocked down all my walls towards church planting and it was undeniable that the Spirit of God was calling me to plant a church in NH. Responding to an altar call for church planting, my mentor ran after me, put an arm around me, and told me “I’ve believed in this call on your life for a while. I’m with you all the way.” That’s when I knew 100%.
2. What hesitations (if any) did you have before you planted?
All my hesitations revolved around the risks around financial sustainability and generating enough momentum for sustainability at a team level. I didn’t want to put my family in an unnecessarily vulnerable spot, but I learned that I was trusting more in myself than God. God often puts us in more vulnerable places to trust Him and let all the credit go to Him.
3. How much time did it take from your initial desire to plant and your actual church
May of 2014 was when I first knew God had called me to start a new church. God had planted the seed in me years earlier to be a part of a new movement of life-giving church work in the northeast for many years, dating back to my middle years in college in 2006. [It wasn’t until 2016 that we planted our first church.]
4. Tell us a little bit about your church plant. Ex: where it is located, how old it is, etc.
We planted our church, The Well, in 2016 in Nashua, NH, located smack dab in the middle of the 2nd least religious area of the country (between Manchester, NH and Boston, MA). We meet at a community center on Sundays and develop followers of Jesus through small group discipleship and community outreach.
5. What was your biggest challenge in planting a church?
Our biggest challenge in church planting, honestly, has been dealing with disgruntled Christians with a prior agenda before attending our church. When the excitement of joining something new wore off and they weren’t interested in reaching people far from Jesus, there were some difficult conversations and a number of people left. Reaching lost people has been the fun part, and baptizing 23 has been the joy, but if I was to start over, I would build a launch team of all seekers rather than established Christians.
6. What surprised you the most in the church planting process?
God’s radical provision is always surprising in that He always equips those He calls. He’s also surprised me with who the greatest contributors are -- often not those who grab your attention right away, but those who are willing to serve quietly, unassumingly, faithfully, and who have a bigger grasp of the mission to reach people far from God.
7. What has been your favorite part of church planting?
My favorite part of church planting has been the conversations with people far from God, baptizing 23 people, and discipling groups of dedicated followers to grow in their faith in Jesus and develop a heart for those far from God.
8. Tell us something that happened during the early days of your church plant that you will never forget.
I’ll never forget when Mark and Allison surrendered their life to Jesus. My wife first met Alison at a park in Nashua, and after explaining that we started a church where “no perfect people are allowed,“ Alison was suddenly interested. Not having been to church in a long time and coming from a past of drug abuse, she had kind of written off church as an option, not thinking God would accept her. But she went home excited and skeptically tried to convince her husband to come. Mark had been an atheist for years and had written off God as a possibility because of the horrors he saw serving overseas in Iraq, but when Alison told Mark about our church and that we met in a school to serve the community, Mark gave it a shot. From day one God gripped their hearts. We started a relationship with them that, over the next nine months, resulted in deep friendship, many conversations about the hardest questions about faith, God, and life, which led to a full surrender of their hearts to Jesus. The day we baptized them was one of the most thrilling moments in our church planting journey. To see your family whose marriage was on the rocks, whose faith was nonexistent, find friendship, community and new life in Jesus is what this church planting journey is all about.
9. Is there anything that you wish you would have known before launching your church plant?
I wish that I had committed to build a team of seekers to begin our church instead of established Christians. I would’ve saved myself, my wife, and much of our church in the early years a lot of heartache, and we probably would’ve reached more people, though it would’ve taken more time initially.
10. What words of encouragement would you give to a fellow pastor who is preparing to plant a church?
Trust God. Period. If he has called you to plant a church, then he will provide the finances, the team, the partnerships, etc. Trust him for his timing, and don’t rush anything. Be faithful in prayer, believing that we can do nothing apart from God. Keep your relationship with Jesus central and don’t let your busyness for him outpace your life with and love for him. Be committed to reaching the lost and see the lost not only as your mission field, but also the method of reaching more lost people. Don’t settle for easy by building with established Christians from other churches, but be committed to listening to the city, developing relationships with people far from God, introducing them to Jesus - however long it takes - and raising them up as disciples and leaders for the future generation. No matter how long it takes, you will not regret it. Jesus will honor your faithfulness.
We want to extend our thanks to Pastor Scott Kearney from The Well Church for his willingness to participate in this blog series about honest thoughts of a church planter!His church’s website, Facebook and Instagram are all linked below so please go check them out and leave Scott and The Well Church some love!