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Honest Thoughts of a Church Planter - Part 5

Part 5 features Jerome Gay Jr., who pastors Vision Church in Raleigh, North Carolina! Jerome talks about the difficulty of staying on mission of discipleship and creating boundaries for himself and his ministry team. We have been so blessed for their partnership in ministry and we couldn’t be more excited about their ministry and what God will continue to do through them!

1. How did you know that you were called to plant a church?

I felt called by God at the age of 16. In response to this calling, I sought the Lord through counsel and prayer. During this process, I felt like God was leading me to North Carolina, so I decided to go to Saint Augustine’s College in Raleigh, NC. At Saint Augustine’s I started a college ministry and was through this ministry that God provided clarity on my calling. After this, I joined a different ministry that I served in for several years and eventually I joined the Acts 29 Church Planting Network where I was able to form relationships and get assessed based on the biblical qualifications of an elder. All these steps led to me planting Vision Church in 2010.

2. What hesitations (if any) did you have before you planted?

I wrestled with several things such as, “would it last”, “would people join”, and “what would the vision be”. After much prayer and writing things down, God made the vision of Vision Church clear. The name of our church come from Acts 16 where God gives Paul a vision.

3. How much time did it take from your initial desire to plant and your actual church launch?

It took 2 years.

4. Tell us a little bit about your church plant. Ex: where it is located, how old it is, etc.

Our church is in Raleigh, NC. Vision Church is a 10 year old gospel-centered, biblically-orthodox, mission-driven, and service-oriented church family.

5. What was your biggest challenge in planting a church?

The biggest challenge has been keeping people on mission, which is discipleship. People want a lot of things, but we must keep the main thing the main thing. Jesus emphasized discipleship and we must do that as well. Since the pandemic, the challenge is knowing who I’m pastoring. Not everyone is comfortable coming back and we’re doing hybrid church (virtual and in-person) and it requires a lot of adjustments.

6. What surprised you the most in the church planting process?

I think one of the biggest things has been

seeing how the church changes and how many leaders leave ministry. My personality isn’t to leave something unfinished, so it was weird seeing so much transience in pastoral leaders.

7. What has been your favorite part of church planting?

My favorite aspect of church planting is seeing people get saved, baptized, and discipled to the point they begin investing in someone else. It never gets old. Additionally, I love being a church planting church and investing in future leaders.

8. Tell us something that happened during the early days of your church plant that you will never forget.

We did a book bag drive our second year and it didn’t seem like we’d get much of a response. Just a week before the event, however, the local radio station reached out to us. As a result, we had over a thousand people show up and get the help they need.

9. Is there anything that you wish you would have known before launching your church plant?

I wish I would have spent more time learning how to develop leaders and boundaries. I work hard, and early on, I unintentionally overworked myself and others. Personal health and team health are something to establish early.

10. What words of encouragement would you give to a fellow pastor who is preparing to plant a church?

I would encourage any new church planter to remember that you will never reach a level of leadership where you won’t be dependent upon God for everything. If you do, you should be scared, because you’re probably operating more in your gifting than you are the leading of the Holy Spirit. Remember, in God’s economy, weakness is an asset. You’re not omni-gifted, and this is by design, as God has purposefully set up your ministry to need Him and others. So my encouragement is to receive it.

We want to thank Jerome Gay Jr. for participating in this blog series and sharing his heart for church planting! Check out his church’s website and social media below:

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