Dave: You’ve got a pretty interesting past for a church planter.
Lou: I spent over 31 years as an Army officer; during a 6-year break in service, I worked as a forester in remote locations in Oregon.
Dave: Tell us a little about your church.
Lou: Our church is Hill Country Church (PCA), a church plant of the Presbyterian Church in America. My wife and I started with a Bible study in our living room four years ago. We now lease space for “church-in-a-box” outside the largest military installation in the Free World, Fort Hood. Nearly everyone in our church is military or former military.
Dave: How did your long career in the military help prepare you for your church plant?
Lou: Military experience helped me in many ways—I discovered my capabilities and limitations, practiced leading people, realized change was a constant in life, learned to develop and cherish teamwork to accomplish a mission, and loved working with people who understood commitment to something bigger than they were. Our move from seminary to Texas was our 23rd; we understand the pressures, unique challenges and hardships of military families. Having “been there and done that” helps me assist soldiers and families to deal with stresses of separation, combat, and reintegration. Nahum 1:7 is a great verse: “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.” (ESV)
Dave: If you were starting over what would you do differently?
Lou: I would not attempt to plant a church without a team right from the start. Jesus pulled together a team of twelve; why do we think a solo pastor/church planter can do everything necessary all by himself? People often ask me how the transition was from commanding a 4,000-man brigade to studying Greek in seminary. I answer, “The hardest part was not having anybody to delegate jobs to—the guy in the mirror was the only one I had!”
Dave: What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Lou: Two pieces of advice: (1)Understand that ministry will probably be the hardest job you will ever do, and it involves much more than you learned in seminary. Are you prepared to suffer (all Christians should, but pastors live “where the rubber meets the road” when it comes to suffering)? Are you prepared for relentless onslaught from Satan and his minions and do you embrace the only source of strength to fight them off—the Lord Jesus Christ? The devil will attack every chink in your armor—physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual. Knowing your enemy’s strategy and tactics as well as those of “friendly forces” is absolutely essential to being an equipped, trained, competent warrior in the Lord’s Army.
(2) If married, make sure your relationship with your wife is rock-solid—sexually, emotionally, spiritually—because pastoral ministry will stretch you both. If you have problems, resolve them before starting ministry or pick another line of work.
Dave: Thanks Lou