Release Them To Go: A Bittersweet But Necessary Step

Charlie Turner - Lead Pastor | River Rock Bible Church, Georgetown, TX

Release Them To Go: A Bittersweet But Necessary Step

“And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

2 Timothy 2:2


“What is wrong with me?” I thought as I stood before the church with tears in my eyes. “Get it together! Be a man! This is supposed to be a happy occasion.” I knew this day was coming, it was something I had prayed for and longed for over ten years. Now that day was finally here, prayers were being answered, the faithfulness of the church body was producing some amazing fruit, and even though I was elated, a wave of sadness washed over me. In all my joy and excitement, I had not really considered how painful this moment would be. As I watched 30 of our church partners walk out of the worship service together the pain in my heart turned to a lump in my throat and then tears flowed from my eyes.

No one was angry, there was no doctrinal disagreement, this wasn’t a church split; we were commissioning our first church plant. When God first called me to church planting, I knew I wasn’t called just to be a church planter but to lead a church planting church. Since the church was launched a little over ten years ago, we have sought to be growing disciples who make disciples of King Jesus. “Multiply disciples, multiply churches.” After all, this was the strategy of the early church as seen in Acts. Although our church grew steadily, growth didn’t happen rapidly. At the time we commissioned Jarrell Community Church, we were only averaging 175 adults on Sunday morning. You might think the tears of pain I shed were because our seemingly small congregation just got smaller, or because we were losing some great leaders, servants, and yes, giving units; but none of that was on my mind.

I wept because, even though it was exciting to see my friends released to “Go, make disciples…,” it meant our relationship was changing. Mason, one of my best friends and the pastor of the new church plant, will no longer fill the lobby with his roaring laugh or the main auditorium with his booming singing voice. Hannah, his wife who came to faith at River Rock seven years ago, won’t be there to welcome and teach my kids. Angela, who had been my neighbor and in my first small group for many years before branching out to lead her own group, won’t be there to serve communion and say, “AMEN!” during the sermons. Her husband, Ronnie, our resident Cajun transplant, won’t be there to give me one of his big hugs then tell me a Boudreaux and Thibodeaux joke. I could go on about Jim, Evelyn, Luis, Christen, Kyle, Ashley, Jacob, Ashley, and every other member of the team whose presence will be missed at River Rock.

In many ways, I’ve faced this same bittersweet feeling before every time our small group branches. Excitement, joy; yet a little sadness. So, why do it? Why branch groups? Why send out church plants? Why release someone to lead another through the disciple-making process? Why not just keep those you’ve invested in and with whom you have deep relationship with you? Because, releasing them is part of the process. If we never release people to go make

disciples on their own their spiritual growth will be hindered. Leading others through the process is an important part of growing in maturity. Their potential impact for the Kingdom will be limited and the growth of the Kingdom itself will be impacted. Releasing people to go is for their benefit and the benefit of the Kingdom.

Jarrell Community Church held their first public service this past Easter. Between River Rock and Jarrell Community there were 297 men, women, and children who were engaged relationally, ministered to, and heard the gospel. While that number may not seem impressive by the world’s standards, I am confident that more people were reached because the church multiplied than if we had stayed as one church. In order for this to happen, people had to be released to go.

Releasing doesn’t happen overnight. Mason and his team were equipped then given opportunities to lead. There were successes and mistakes along the way. Both were opportunities to learn through debriefing together. In the end we got to celebrate the faithfulness of God and His people. Releasing people to go is bittersweet, but it is part of the process of making disciples and we must trust the process; the growth of the Kingdom is at stake. May God bless you with many bittersweet moments as you release others to make disciples.

Charlie Turner – Lead Pastor
River Rock Bible Church
Georgetown, TX