Saturday, July 25, 2015

Church Planting Mistakes #4 Evangelism

I was sitting shooting the breeze with a church planter recently. We were sharing stories, when he told me of THAT Sunday when they gathered and there him, his wife, and his children were the sole worshippers. That was that. We laughed together and he added: "You haven't planted until you have had THAT Sunday". The laughter that ensued veiled the deep memory that can break the church planter.

Church planting is the great divine vehicle to establish new gospel frontiers, seeing men, women, boys and girls hear the gospel of grace as many times as possible.

However, the pressure to 'succeed' is overwhelming. The internal pressure that does attach itself to the planter, is way too much. To measure one's self worth and value to the number of people who gather in a room on a Sunday is a very dangerous and fickle traveling companion.

There is pressure from the sending church. The questions that are asked tend to add to this weight - "how many people were there Sunday?", "have you got a cool venue?", "do you have a good worship team?", "and children's ministry?"...

These are not good questions in those early years.

These plants are firstly there to make His name great, by seeing many come into a living faith in Christ. This evangelistic priority should drive the planter. The pressure to 'grow' often leads to the gathering of those who have left other churches with a limp. Now, of course we love the local church and we want to see every believer find a spiritual home. Even with David, those who joined him were disillusioned, discontented, in debit. We do want to give all a second chance.

However, there also needs to be significant wisdom and discernment. Too many church planters have been dashed by the arrival of a newbie, who says that this is the "best church ever". Soon their own disgruntlement become evident and they leave loudly, destructively and painfully. Often the desperate planter will try anything to grow - including marketing strategies. Please don't be seduced by the short sighted surrogate growth.

Establishing a community is first and best built, on those who come to redemption in this house. These sons and daughters tend to buy into the story and sacrifice for the journey. We always remind ourselves: "And God added to their number those who were being saved" Acts 2:47.

Dear planter as Paul said to Timothy: "For this time, do the work of the evangelist" 2 Tim 4:5. Ask God for that mantle. Secondly there is a grace gift called "evangelist" Eph 4:11 who can come into your church to stir your folks to develop an evangelistic culture {Alpha has proven to be a huge tool for developing a culture of evangelism - thanks Nicky Gumble and all at HTB}

Church planting is not defined by how many people we get into a room. It is seeing many come into an exquisite faith story with the giver of grace, the dispenser of redemption. Jesus is his name. That is what we do.

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