Tuesday, May 12, 2009


In his book “Vintage Church” Mark Driscoll sums up the matter of leadership and the church simply when he says: “When we maintain the balance between healthy, respected, mature leaders and active, worshipping, serving members, the church excels as the living body of Christ.”[1]


Nothing will test this glorious relationship more than a decision to Replant. Almost every emotion known to man is let loose to create the potential for very muddy waters. From anger to sentimentality, from joy to relief, the soul of the community is stirred. This requires some very wise leading. Leading that is not easily swayed by the opinions of man[2]. The leaders must be God convinced but people sensitive. However it is still not for the faint hearted.


As there is no replant in the Bible, we may best explore this particular question by looking at Nehemiah who replanted a city in the face of enormous opposition. This text has been the sanity for many a replanter.



Who will not replant with us?

A.   The Godly;

There are some who will not relocate with us but who carry themselves with real godliness and holiness but cannot take the step. For those the reasons may be various:

§      Health,

§      Transport,

§      Heart for the previous city or context,

§      Vision uncertainty,

They follow the due process of the heart of scripture. They engage the elders in their journey. The conversation allows for a gracious conclusion and, for the kingdom, a relationship is still in tact.

B.   The Ungodly;

The study of Nehemiah introduces us to a group of resisters. Sanballat, Tobiah and crew who, upon discovery of the plan to rebuild, raged. This is how those who are against the replant may react;

1.     Emotional response:

·      “Very much disturbed

·      Mocked

·      Ridiculed,

·      Angry

·      Greatly incensed,

·      Very angry”,

2.   Provocative action:

·      Public ridicule[3]

·      Overtly demeaning, 4:2

·      Measured belittling 4:3

·      Insult throwing, 4:5

·      Plotting together, 4:8

·      Trouble stirring, 4:8

·      Private scheming 6:2

·      Vague accusations 6:5

·      Endeavor to frighten 6:9[4]

·      Intentional intimidation 6:13

·      Discredit leaders 6:13

·      Involve government [5]

·      Many letters [emails] 6:17

·      Endless calls for distraction, delaying conversations 6:5


This is not a complete list. When we are in the dark days of the replant announcement, the enemy will come in many forms to try to discourage or distract us from the clear divine initiative we have been given. It is most helpful to meditate on these texts. They will keep us sane.


The story is told of Martin Luther who was suffering under the weight of demonic assault as he had taken on the political and religious systems of the day. His wife walked in one day as he was lying in a defeated foetal position. Seeing that she was dressed in the black of mourning, he asked :”Who has died?”. She looked at him and said: ”Well the way you are acting, God must have!” My wife asked me at the time of the replant announcement if I had the legs for it. I could not answer her. Three tough years lay ahead.


Who WILL replant with us?

1.    The Replanter:

·      Nehemiah I - Must be absolutely sure they, as a couple, have heard the Father. There can be no doubt. Write down everything the Father says to you. No word is wasted. Every word will be a source of encouragement in the future.[6]

·      Nehemiah II – Our heart for the ‘city’ must broken. We cannot achieve the challenge at hand if we do not love deeply, care greatly and lead clearly. We can never replant out of anger, resentment or bitterness. That is bad root that will produce bad fruit.[7] The love of Christ is what compels us[8]

·      Nehemiah III [9]- Both husband and wife must find the Father together. Daily prayer is absolutely essential. This journey is not for the fainthearted. It will require a father and a mother to lead this family to green pastures,

·      Nehemiah IV - you will feel very poorly chosen for the task at hand. He was a “cupbearer to the king”[10] but was called to engineer a rebuild a city in record time. There will be many times when you will feel out of your depth,

·      Nehemiah V – it is imperative to go and study the place of replanting. Nehemiah took a few good men[11] and they did their homework. The passion to leave must not be confused with the need to find the ‘right place’. The Father has the right time and place where we must live[12]. We did our research around our ‘avenue of growth’ – where was our growth coming from and why? But we will examine this further under the “How “ question.

2.  The Team:

·      Apostle/s: [Artaxerxes the king] - we will all need someone of weighty biblical government to walk with us. “It was he who gave some to be apostles…”[13] The office of the apostle is a much debated one in the church, however, it is the office that is gifted by God to be the ‘masterbuilder’.[14] It is a supernaturally endowed office, not more important that any other, but one that is essential to a replant / rebuilding process. A true apostle has a track record of successfully negotiating this challenging track before with other churches.[15]

·      Eldership team [husbands and wives] - must be on the same page,

·      Find the ‘Few good “men”’. This is not based on giving or friendship. Rather they need to be found with the following characteristics:

a.  Love the Lord with all their heart,

b.  Love the scriptures with a righteous jealousy,

c.   Love this local church passionately,

d.    Love you enough to be honest with you no matter what,

e.  Have a biblical respect and honor for leadership – God anointed and appointed,

f.   Are true – their yes is their yes, not one thing to your face and another with others,

g.  Are strong and courageous,

h.  Are tough and tender… will not be drawn into a fight[16] with brothers but be a spiritual warrior in prayer, fasting and worship,[17]

i.    Workers. This is a time for more than philosophy or armchair quarterbacks.

·      The labor of love – fetching the fragile and the fringe.

·      The labor of the lost - to assist in creating a new momentum of getting, gathering and growing.

·      The labor of leading – protecting both the front door and the back, building great gates of grace and generosity.

j.   I try to meet with a “Forum of Fathers” on a monthly basis to hear what they are thinking, hearing or feeling. – senior men in the church who are tracking with us.

·      The prophet;

a.  A Gift - this most under – understood office and yet a wonderful gift to the church, is very helpful in this journey. The scripture says that God does nothing but first tell His servant the prophets.[18] Where there is a proven track record in these types of situations, as well as an honest relationship with the leadership, this is a very powerful partnership. The prophets are not called to govern in this context but can assist the leadership keep the church on course in the heat of the battle.

b.  A Disaster. The enemy will use the voices of ‘prophets’ to fulfill his objective, which is to destroy the church. The scripture is rife with examples of this but Nehemiah had to face up to this reality in chapter 6:11 – 14. False prophets give weight to what may appear a righteous cause. The way to measure these words is by their theological accuracy and their kingdom spirit [or lack thereof].

[1] Mark Driscoll “Vintage Church” pg 80

[2] The great apostle Paul deals with this matter in Galatians 1 and 2,

[3] Replanter your sanity is to study chapters 4 and 6 of Nehemiah – 4:2

[4] Ezra 4:4 -5 reads: Then the people around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. They hired counselors to work against them and frustrate their plans…”

[5] This is found in Ezra 4:6

[6] Habakkuk 2:1 – 4,

[7] Hebrews 12:14 – 15,

[8] 2 Corinthians 5:14,

[9] Nehemiah 1:4 – 11,

[10] Nehemiah 1:11,

[11] Nehemiah 2:12

[12] Acts 17:26

[13] Ephesians 4:11

[14] 1 Corinthians 3:10

[15] 1 Corinthians 9:1 -2,

[16] In extreme situations, one may need to put someone out of the church in the process, but we must remember that our battle is not against flesh and blood…

[17] Zechariah 10:6 – 8,

[18] Amos 3:7

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