Back in 2007, I developed an initial desire to plant a church. As time went by, I began to ask the Lord if this was of Him or just human emotion. After submitting to Him in prayer, the desire began to grow daily until a clear vision for church planting took shape, and soon after, a small church began meeting in a living room. My experience will not be the experience of every future church planter, but all Christians must be sensitive to the call of God on their lives. If you are a follower of Christ, God is calling you to serve. God is still actively calling men and women to specific ministries. While God’s call might not come as plainly or audibly as Samuel’s (1 Samuel 3:1-14), it is just as real. Will you answer?
Has he called you to church planting? If so, praise the Lord for the chance to participate in Kingdom growth in a mighty way. Planting a church will be one of the most exciting and fulfilling times of your ministry. However, if you head down this road without the call of God on your life for this ministry, prepare to be drained and broken. For those who feel the unmistakable pull of God in this direction, let me offer four areas of focus:
First and foremost … Pray. Please do not let this be what you tag on to your plans, but let everything begin and end on your knees. If your church plant does not survive, you will undoubtedly look back and see a lack of time spent with the Lord. Let prayer be that element of your spiritual life that confirms your calling to this ministry, empowers your heart for the struggles of this ministry, and emboldens your Gospel witness for Christ in this ministry.
Second, you must carefully and prayerfully assemble the ministry team. Your instinct will be to grab your friends, those who are in agreement with your plan, and run with them, but I suggest that you do not do this. Do not just assemble a team of “yes men” and expect smooth sailing. Allow God to place the people in your path whom you need for His church. Be grateful for those who encourage, but thank the Lord for those who disagree. Iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17), and real love will confront. Your opinion will not always be correct. You need other points of view.
Third, your most substantial effort should be in sharing the Gospel. You are going to be busy with many details like location and material needs, but time spent in evangelism is time well spent. Looking to the Apostle Paul, you see a model of church planting in Acts 16. Paul carries the message of the Gospel as he goes by the river, when he encounters the possessed girl, and even when he is suffering in prison. The beauty of Paul’s life was his ability to display the glory of Jesus Christ through all circumstances.
Finally, put on your work boots. Planting is not a comfy desk job in a corner office. Church planting is real work, real labor, real suffering. If you want to see the life of the greatest church planter, just look to 2 Corinthians 11:25-28. Paul describes his experience this way,
Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.
What are you willing to endure for the sake of Christ? If your motivation is not purely the expansion of the Kingdom, then this is not for you. However, if church planting is your God-given calling, do not let anything keep you from fulfilling your mission.
Serving the Lord in any respect is a holy privilege, and it is made possible by the blood of Jesus Christ. Let us not neglect so great a salvation (Hebrews 2:3), but let us be people who are willing to do anything, go anywhere, and sacrifice everything for the name above every name, Jesus Christ our Lord.