When I started keeping a written journal, I wondered about it’s value over the long haul. I don’t journal as often as I should, but I guess it’s all a matter of capturing your feelings in the moment. A blog shouldn’t. A blog is public but a journal is personal. It’s where you share your rawest of emotions as you work through things in life. In my work planting a church, I wrote many things I would never publish in a blog or any form of public writing but captured within those pages in pen and pencil are gems that I look back on now and glean wisdom from for my future…The main takeaway from the majority of my writing is DO NOT listen to the experts… If you are truly called to plant a church, understand this much; you are called to be unique in HOW you do this.
Today, we have networks which have their place in terms of what they can offer you but ultimately you will do something different than anyone else if you are called by God to the task. What has happened is rather than developing such networks as a resource, the subculture of church planting has built an industry where we have allowed these networks to mirror secular professional HR firms. We have screenings to see if someone is wired properly to plant, we have endless surveys to take to see if the area to which we are called is uniquely ready for a ‘church’ (not the true Church that Christ died for), and we have ‘experts’ willing to coach us in how it’s done. You have ‘preview’ services leading up to the ‘big day’ where you ‘kick off” the work and if you’ve done everything right, you’ll have 100, 200, maybe more people coming to your church. It’s an industry..NOT an organism. It’s not church…It’s a religious social club.
All through the New Testament I see Jesus moving from place to place, talking to people, building a relationship, and enjoying meals with others while teaching them about His Heavenly Father. When the disciples began their work of spreading the gospel after the dispersion in Acts, we see them going from place to place making disciples and then placing within them the task of replicating what has been done so that the message of Jesus Christ was passed on in a simple, straightforward manner. Paul didn’t come to town and start ‘preview’ services. He proclaimed truth, made disciples, and then put a simple structure in place to see to it that the disciples would grow in their faith. They expected duplication of the process almost immediately (2 Tim. 2:2). They didn’t screen the new disciples to see where their personalities fit on a DISC profile assessment.
If you want to plant a church, here’s my profile assessment for you: Have you made disciples? How many have you baptized? How many of whom you baptized and discipled are now doing the same thing? How many spiritual ‘grandchildren’ or ‘great-grandchildren’ do you now have? Are your disciples, making disciples who make disciples? If not, then pray long and hard about whether or not you want to plant a church. You might have the business sense. You might be able to raise money. You might even have the backing of an entire denominational church planting agency but if you’re not seeing this simple practice in your ministry then you will effectively build a religious social club and nothing more. It may look good, the pictures may show smiles, but if real life transformation isn’t taking place then it’s all “Whitewashed tombs” (Matt. 23:27) as Jesus would say. In summary, read what you can. Glean ideas but not an entire method from what you read. Be sensible and do the work of an evangelist (2 Tim. 4:5) and build something unique. The Kingdom of God requires your best, not something rehashed from somebody else. I’ll share more in my next post…