Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The Heart of a Church Planter: An interview of Pastor Darryl Dash of Liberty Grace Church (Toronto)

Barely 2% of the citizens of Toronto make a claim to being born again. With a population of 5.5 million people in the Greater Toronto Area, you can do the math. We need conversions in Toronto and that means we need churches.

One of my real joys in life has been watching many churches get birthed in this city over the last 15 years. There was a time when so little was happening, but now the tide is begining to move in the right direction. Praise the Lord.

What a joy it was for me then, when my good friend and fellow Toronto-lover, Darryl Dash, decided to venture into planting a new church. It was a bold move. Near a stage in life when some pastors are deciding to settle into what looks secure, Darryl was willing to risk it all. That takes some serious courage and I cannot wait to see how the Lord is going to use my brother.

Darryl is still in the formulating stages of the plant of Liberty Grace Church, but based on my own experiences of planting I thought it a great time to throw him some different kinds of questions to help you see how the Lord can work on a man in this situation. I hope you enjoy reading his answers as much as I did.


What has happened in your soul so far in this church planting effort?

I heard someone say that church planting will reveal every idol you have. I’ve found that to be true this year. I’ve been humbled as I’ve seen my insecurities, fears, and drivenness surface, and as I’ve realized again that I control nothing. So, on one hand, I’ve been humbled.

The flip side is that I’ve found God’s grace to be so rich as it’s met me in my need. I’ve found joy in the middle of some pretty hard stuff this year, and I’m learning lots.

Earlier this year a church planter told me that church planting is the overflow of one’s relationship with Christ. That was during a particularly tough period when I had no overflow. It’s different now. I get it, and that’s what I keep reminding myself as we church plant.

What has become particularly alive to you in God's Word since you made the decision to plant in Liberty Village?

So much. I was reading 2 Corinthians 5 this week, and it was leaping off the page to me. Acts has come alive for me.

The four main passages I keep coming back to are these:

“Thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else's foundation” (Romans 15:20). This reminds me that our focus is to preach the gospel to people who have never heard.

“These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also” (Acts 17:6). This reminds me that the gospel turns the world upside down.

“Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:3). This reminds me that ministry entails suffering.

“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). This reminds me of Christ’s presence and enablement in the process of making disciples.

What has surprised you so far?

I think I was naïve about the level of spiritual attack. I’ve also been surprised at how well God has provided, which is where I’m tempted to doubt Him. I’ve been surprised by some of the idols that have surfaced in my life.

Do you think the plant might fail and are you personally prepared for that?

I hope the church plant won’t fail, but yes, that’s a very real possibility, and it (along with the money question) is the main battle I faced as we moved into church planting. I found myself wrapping up my reputation and desire to prove myself into what I was doing. It’s an ongoing struggle, but I’ve had to come to the point, repeatedly, of bringing those struggles to the gospel.

I’ve had to redefine failure as disobedience. That sounds like a cliché, but it’s true. I almost didn’t church plant because I was afraid of failing. I realized I sounded a lot like this guy: “I was afraid, and I went and hid your money in the ground” (Matthew 25:25). Not a good thing!

This church plant may fail, but I’m still committed to church planting, and to suffering. There’s no turning back.

What has the Lord been teaching you about prayer over the last year?

He’s been teaching me that I have a long way to go! The honesty has been greater. Guilt-motivated prayer is less of a struggle because I’m so aware of my dependence. He’s also been teaching me to intercede a lot more for other church planters.

If you could write the script, what would your life look like ten years from today?

I’d still be church planting, but more in the background as others are discipled to lead. I’d love to be part of a church planting movement, along with others, that’s transforming Toronto in a significant way. I’d love to be ten years deeper in my relationship with God, and more committed than ever to loving my wife.

How have your convictions about the local church changed over the last year of planting?

Overall, my ecclesiology hasn’t changed. I do have one new conviction: every church should have church planting at its heart. That sounds self-serving, but I think it’s true. I didn’t get that a few years ago.

When do you hope to officially launch? Can you give us any details on your plans?

We’re working and praying toward a public launch in the early Spring (before Easter 2013). We’re currently meeting every other week, and in January we start meeting every week. Right now we’re focused on building a Launch Team and beginning to do evangelism in the community. We’re moving into the community, and we’re starting a Christianity Explored course early next year. Please pray for us!