Five Things I Felt as a Church Planting Kid – California Southern Baptist Convention

Five Things I Felt as a Church Planting Kid

Published Aug 29, 2023

Hello! I’m A.S. Westbrook, the firstborn daughter of James and Desiree Westbrook of Realm Church in Oakland, CA. From me and my brother’s perspective, I want to share with you five feelings that your child/teen might be experiencing when preparing to plant a church. I hope this will be helpful to you as you consider this ministry calling with your family.

We were living in Kentucky, and I was six years old when my mom and dad talked to us about the possibility of moving to the Bay area in California to plant a new church. To us, California (which is also my mom’s home state and the place where my Dad worked and graduated from seminary and feels most at home) felt like a distant land because we were so used to living in Kentucky. Here are some of the feelings we had:

1. We felt adventurous, because when you are very young, almost every big trip feels like an adventure. We were excited to finally go on a big adventure to the West Coast with our family! As soon as our parents told us that we were praying about moving to California, we dashed next door and told our friends. Our parents had also discussed this with their parents as our friends’ parents led our sending church. After talking with our parents and friends to process our sadness, it was finally moving day and we were ready for the new adventure – our big move to California!

2. We felt happy when our parents told us that we were going to California. We knew we would be able to make new friends and share our faith with our new classmates and teachers. By God’s grace (and from learning from our parents), we regularly share our faith in the Bay area with close friends, new friends, and neighbors of different backgrounds and beliefs.

3. We felt confused when our parents told us we were going to move. We wondered if that meant leaving our home and close friends behind. Our parents discussed this with us and helped us to process our feelings. They reminded us that we wouldn’t lose our friends -though we might be a little farther away than before- but we would still prioritize seeing and talking with them online and in person.

4. My brother and I also felt sad. We felt sad because we were moving away from our very close friends and we were nervous about moving somewhere new to plant a new church; however, we were open to exploring a new place with God’s help.

5. With all of these feelings, we mostly felt determined because we really wanted to start a church with our parents and meet new friends from all over the world. We were looking forward to a fresh start and a new experience. We welcomed learning how to step out of our comfort zones, including meeting new people we have never met before and learning how to navigate the different stages of a church plant’s life.

We’re so thankful that our parents helped us to process what this meant for our family. They invited us to help them with various duties in planting the Church (before, during and after we started holding services), which we enjoyed and gave us some levels of ownership in helping to build a church in a hard area of the United States. Our parents modeled for us what it looks like to step out of our comfort zones and step out in faith to plant Realm Church.

We’re so happy that we didn’t allow fear to hold us back from this adventure! While we still process (from time to time) missing seeing our close friends, we know that our relationship with them remains strong because our parents help us to keep those bonds. Our parents model for us what it looks like to live out our callings as a family in California, knowing that God will reward us for all of the sacrifices that we make.

We love going to church every week where we have friends of all ages and cultures who feel just like family to us, and we get to serve our neighbors regularly and learn how to stand for God’s Truth with love despite the pressure to give in to the ways of this world.

We have learned how to intentionally take sabbath days of rest as a family and we make time for family vacations (even if only for a weekend), which helps too.

God is using all of us – children, tweens, and teens to reach people for His glory. Church planting as a family is a special journey that takes prayer, faith, trust, processing feelings, and lots of love, patience, flexibility and understanding – especially from parents (as our parents did/do with us). May God be with you all on your church planting journey!

~ A.S. Westbrook