We bought a house on Friday, and this week we will be moving to a more permanent Las Vegas address.

Before I tell you what I’ve learned from living in this house, I need you to understand that everything about packing & preparing for a move thrills me. I attack it with a Claire Dunphy intensity that would make Monica Geller want to be BFF with me. I am a machine. And I am not humble about it, either. I boast. I brag. I flaunt my awesomeness the moment anyone asks, “How’s packing going?”

One of my proudest moments, you should know, came after the North American Van Lines guys deposited our Arizona house into our Minnesota home using the clever color-coded “maps” I hung for them at each of the home’s entry points. As they were leaving (ahead of schedule), they paused and said, “That was the easiest and best move we’ve ever done.”

Boom shakalaka!

I’ve been a packing egomaniac ever since.

But that’s not what I came to the blogosphere to lay down for you today. I came here to divulge two things I’ve learned about church planting from living in a rental home on Woodland Violet Avenue.

1) Be nuts enough to move your family to a new city but smart enough to rent first.

Up until Oct. 2011, Ryan and I had been homeowners for our entire marriage, mostly because we got married in 2004 when it was pretty darn easy to buy (and sell a year later) a home in Phoenix. Our next home in Minnesota was a wonderful blessing that turned into a colossal roadblock when God said, “Sell it, leave it, and go.” I didn’t want to. It was hard. Like, really hard. Like our-kids-still-cry-about-it-when-they-watch-this-video hard. Part of what made it so difficult was knowing that we had already made the decision to rent in Vegas until God offered up a different scenario. It’s now two years later, and I can honestly say that the decision to rent first was the best decision we made for our family and for Advance Church.

Renting allowed us to:

a)     Avoid adding the stress of home ownership to the gargantuan stress heap of years one and two of church planting.

b)    Get a good, solid feel for where it makes the best sense for us to live given the kids’ activities, the church’s eventual location, and the overall rhythm of our life here.

c)     Focus on people and planting, not Pinterest.


2) A lack of space is no excuse for a shortage of imagination. It’s a catalyst for it. 

When there were five of us, it was easy to sit in our cozy family room. When there were eight of us, I had to start moving furniture every Sunday to fit everyone in comfortably. When there were 10 of us, I had to push the kitchen table back to the kitchen sink and assume the only seat left in the room: the counter.

Because God didn’t give us a spacious great room or an amazing backyard to grow his church in, it forced us to innovate and exercise what my husband likes to call a little godly imagination.

To create space we didn’t have, we started webcasting the sermon portion of our Sunday evening launch team gatherings. This enabled one group to meet in our living room, another group to watch from an apartment a few miles away, and third group to join us from Minnesota while they prepared to move to Vegas. Our family, friends, and investors elsewhere in the country were also able to tune in live each week and be a part of what we were doing. It was crazy, but it worked and it allowed us to grow. And it would’ve never happened if we had bought ourselves more square footage early on.

church planting year 1


Tomorrow our perfectly packed family room will migrate to a newer, larger, and more permanent space just a few miles away from where I sit now. In his infinite grace and impeccable timing, God is giving us our own home again on precisely the 2-year anniversay of the very first meeting of Advance Church’s “Founding Five.”

More on the beauty and brilliance of that in my next post.