Lessons in Church Planting # 1
Don’t lean God’s call on your life on how many people “say” they will stick with you. Because chances are, they won’t. A very small percentage is in it for the long haul, which evidences them being there is of God, not just something that sounds cool to be apart of.
Church planting can be fun, but it can also be a grueling process. Vintage Grace Church is now the third church plant that I’ve been involved in and the second that I have led. Two of which required some type of residency/training in order to plant under a particular denomination or network.
One of the overarching questions that a potential planter is always asking is, “Who can I get to come with me?”
- Who will be a part of my core team?
- Who will plant with me?
- Who can I take to dinner and get a YES from?
A big portion of traditional church planting training/residency is to identify a particular number of individuals who will commit to going with you. So, the above questions that are being asked by the potential planter are questions that are fueled from the traditional philosophy of training a potential church planter.
Is this wrong? No, not necessarily. Is it necessary? No, not necessarily.
More importantly, is it biblical? No. It is not. For clarification, just because something doesn’t exist in the Bible does not mean that it is necessarily wrong. But, it is still a good place to begin.
So, what does church planting look like in the Bible? Is it different than the typical and traditional residency model in most churches? Biblical church planting looks like this: It looks like evangelism and discipleship that results in new churches.
Biblical church planting isn’t a group of 30 folks relocating somewhere to offer a new flavor of church in certain geography.
Biblical church planting is however many people God calls to a geographical area that are committed to evangelism and discipleship that will result in a new church.
The first church plant that I led, as well as Vintage Grace Church, we have had dozens of couples and families tout their allegiance to our vision for church planting, take us out to a nice meal and communicate their commitment or even come and begin as core leaders only to find that church planting wasn’t as what they expected.
Churches have to develop and function differently contingent upon their size and ability. Philosophy of leadership is going to look different in a church plant of 20 folks than an existing church of 400.
Leadership is going to function differently. Roles will be different. In a church plant of 20 we don’t need specialists with very specific roles. We need a handful of people that are willing to be generalists. People that can serve as whatever we need at the moment. People that will own the vision and do the work. Leaders don’t stand around and watch “volunteers” set up everything. Leaders set up and break down every single week. And then leaders sit – IN THE SERVICE – and are apart of corporate worship.
Children’s ministry is going to look different. We need as many people to help as possible, so that one or two people aren’t dying spiritually because they haven’t been in corporate worship for a year. We don’t need specialty kids workers, a church plant of 20 people needs safe and willing bodies to be available – that’s all. The specialization is developed as the church grows and has more needs.
Parenting is going to look differently. You don’t allow your kids to paralyze you from ministry, you invite them into it. You hold your kid and read a Bible story to other kids. You rock your kid to sleep in the hallway and then come back into the service because each body is that much more valuable in a church the size of 20.
Ministry is going to look differently all-together. Church panting isn’t about believers finding a new church and becoming best friends with the pastor. It’s about believers having a call on their life to prioritize evangelism and discipleship in their sphere of influence and then introducing those people to a biblical church where they can continue to be discipled.
These are just some of the reasons that change people’s minds of sticking it out with a church plant. I believe that God specifically wires people to be a part of a church plant. It’s okay if that is not you. I think sometimes people come into a church that WAS planted (all churches were planted at some point, lol) and is now experiencing some type of growth, so that’s what they expect is going to happen in the first year at another place. Let’s just be real, if your church is 5 years old it is no longer a church plant and rightfully so. It’s a good thing for babies to mature into adults. In fact, if your church plant is 5 years old and hasn’t matured, you might be chasing your own vision and not God’s.
Church planting is not sexy. It’s hard, tough and if it’s not God’s calling on your life you will either die or give up. With that said, it’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever been apart of and I’m thankful to serve as the lead pastor of Vintage Grace Church.