the cost of discipleship

For the past three years our family has lived in a little middle-class neighborhood nestled in the urban sprawl of Guediawaye. This community is distinct because the land developer built hundreds of cookie cutter two-story houses. They all look the same, from their shape to the beige and orange paint.

Once people buy the home they can chose to modify it. All around our little concrete block home, now stand five-story apartment buildings with ornate metal work and tile. Our homes look different but underneath they all have the same narrow two-story foundation. In twenty years most of the buildings around us will collapse because they didn’t build with the future in mind.

They didn’t count the cost to dig out the inadequate foundations and start over. They built their towering frames of concrete and live for today.

So, it came as a surprise to me in another part of the city when I came across a one-story house with a three-story stairwell! This little unassuming house can barely be seen over its fence except for a towering concrete staircase set toward the sky. This little rancher sits on a massive and deep foundation.

They couldn’t afford to build the whole building at once, but they had the money for the foundation, the first floor, and their hope for the future.

Surrounded by the crowd Jesus said, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” (Luke 14.28).

Elise and I desire to build a tower, a church planting movement, a fellowship of Jesus followers that stands as a beacon to the unreached. We count the cost of investing our lives into African brothers and sisters who will build His church and serve as watchmen on its walls.

We dream of an increasingly redeemed and transformed Africa.

But dreams are easy. Dreams can float in and out of the transom of our minds. It is only when we begin to count the cost of our dreams, begin to form a vision to see those dreams become a reality that we discover where the difficulties are.

In counting the cost we recognize that all our blood, sweat and tears are inadequate; all our resources, talents and skills can only build a temporary foundation at best. If we build a church planting movement on our personalities and strengths the moment we move our hand away we will watch as the tower falls. To paraphrase Ken Blanchard, the test of our architectural skill is not what happens when we are there, but what happens when we are not.

And so we count the cost. We dig out the old collapsing foundations. We invest our hope for the future.

We realize that no amount of outside money can pay African pastors long enough to create a self-supporting church. We recognize that we are only channels, humble witnesses seeing the Spirit establish a self-propagating church. We recall the servant-leaders who made room for us, so we create space for a new generation of men and women to pastor the new churches He plants.

We count the cost and build the foundation, the first floor, and the hope for the future.

Because a strong foundation was laid yesterday, the Family Church in Parcelles Assainies is growing as a self-supporting, self-propagating and self-governing church. Today, the Église Suñu Gaal in Wakané-Nimzatt is passing through the birth pains as this new fellowship is born. And we have a firm hope that tomorrow and the days to follow we will see more churches planted throughout Dakar, across Senegal and the world.

A church planting movement among the unreached and resistant peoples of Senegal only looks impossible as long as it remains unfilled. And it will only become reality with absolute faith and commitment to count the cost.

Thank you for counting the cost with us!