I asked Kate Hibbitt, a dear friend of mine of many years, if she would consider telling us her experience of church planting, here is some of her story:
It’s been three years since I moved to Bridport with my husband Rob and our two sons, Jamie and Daniel to plant a church. Beacon Church Bridport is now no longer a church plant but a church in its own right.
God spoke to me prophetically through someone, 15 years ago, about church planting and being a pioneer. I was single at the time and was on a New Frontiers Project (it’s called Impact now). I stored that word away in my heart.
Rob and I have been married for thirteen years. God started to stir both Rob and I around 7 years ago about church planting. God used those years to train, shape and change me.
Looking back those years were a bit like a roller coaster ride but I held onto what God had spoken and waited patiently for the ‘go’. During that time I learnt about God’s perfect timing and He taught me so much in the waiting. The hardest part for me was leaving close friends, uprooting our children and leaving Citygate Church, which I had been a part of for 18 years.
On the 23rd March 2012 we moved to Beaminster, just north of Bridport. The move happened very quickly after the years of planning and waiting. We saw a house, secured school places and moved three weeks later! Leading up to the move close friends had prophesied that God was going to do immeasurably more than we would ask or could imagine.
God showed me what a lavish Father He is by providing a perfect home for us to live in, friends were able to visit, it had a basement big enough to start the church in and enough space to be hospitable and minister to people.
Our new home, London House, also had enough bedrooms to house all the Leadership team when they moved to join the Church plant as they were waiting for houses to sell etc. God did do immeasurably more than I could/would have ever, ever imagined! I have so many God stories that I have learnt along the way. God’s ways are not our ways but in hindsight His ways are not only the better option but bring blessing and fruitfulness. London House provided us with the space to build firm foundations and helped us to kick start the church.
As I look back over the last few years, life has not always been plain sailing. As a couple and as a family we have had our ups and downs. I am so thankful for the godly men and women God has put around us to encourage and support us when we have been battle weary. There have been many setbacks and frustrations; as well as the highs of planting and establishing a church. I can confidently say God has been completely trustworthy and faithful in the big and the small. It amazes me how much He knows me and how He is interested in me. He surprises me in the most unexpected ways.
It’s taken me a long time to realise it’s ok to be me! It has been liberating to know in my inner being that God created me before the beginning of time to be Kate – not anyone else – just me. In Him I have everything and I am complete. My identity is in Him. As I have got rid of the debris and clutter in my heart that I have carried around for years as a Christian, the wrong thinking and worldly principles, I have found freedom, freedom to be me and freedom to say no.
For some reading this who know me this is something I have struggled with for many years and especially over the past few years. I am learning to be still in the busyness of church life. I’m on a journey of one day at a time. Not rushing ahead for there is time for everything (Ecc 3:1) and everything in its time.
Church planting is challenging and for me in the early days I felt the pressure to do everything. Be a good wife, mum, work part time, juggle church life and in doing so put stress on my husband and children because I couldn’t say no, if I did I thought I was a failure.
If I’m honest I have struggled with being a ‘Martha’. For many years my identity has come from being busy. Nothing is as important than spending time with Him. He is a God who gives and gives and gives. He has not held anything back. He poured out his life for me so I can live in the full measure of Him. WOW! What amazing truth.
Over recent months God has shown me the things in my life that I need to let go of – of loved ones, of material things and the biggest mountain in my life – control. It has been a painful season of being stripped bare and I have felt very low at times but it has also been an incredible time of blessing. Through the pain and suffering God has been so gentle, gracious and kind. In letting go I have felt Him closer than ever, He has calmed my fears and quietened my anxiety. He has dealt with my disappointment and has changed my heart. I still don’t fully understand the whys but my Heavenly Father does. I am learning to live above my circumstances.
Church planting is exciting and life changing and shaping. I love seeing the impact this has had on Rob and I and on our boys as well. They both are passionate for Jesus, the gospel and for church planting.
Many people questioned us for moving them from schools they loved and a big church but as I look back I can see the growth and the moulding God has done in their lives. In the early days it was tough for them but it has made them stronger, more resilient and most importantly they know they can depend on Jesus in every situation.
I would encourage all who read this and are wanting to push further into the presence and promises of God, whatever you do don’t limit God, be open to the prophetic and don’t be afraid to dream big dreams. God loves us so much He longs for us to be out of our comfort zones just to prove how faithful He truly is!
I’ll leave Kate’s powerful story with you to chew over. God often speaks many years before the event, has this reminded you of anything he has said to you? Is it time for the next step?