The work of planting a new church will probably kill you.
On my first day in Greek grammar class in Bible college, Dr. Jesse Thomas walked in and stood at the podium to offer a brief welcome: “Welcome to boot camp.” Serious students survived, some even thrived, but some fell by the wayside because of their unwillingness to do the hard work of memorization that studying an ancient language requires.
I’ve often thought back to that day as a church planter. Planting a church is hard. In fact, it will destroy your family, your ministry and strip you of your vitality and enthusiasm, IF you can’t lean on your sense of calling from God.
In other words, if your heart is false, if your motives are selfish or if your calling to the ministry of planting the Gospel is uncertain, then your soul will suffer in the thick of the battle. When tough times come, when money runs short, when criticism abounds, when the launch team leaves you, when your spouse is feeling burned out and when the emotion of the big launch subsides, you’re a sitting duck for the enemy.
Before you plant a church, clarify your calling.
Angie and I have been about the work of planting Grace Hills Church for close to a year now (I can hardly believe it’s been that long), and we’ve already made plenty of mistakes along the way. We’ve done some things too early. We’ve done other things too late. We’ve missed some opportunities and struggled to prioritize correctly sometimes. But at the end of the day, there isn’t a single doubt in my mind that we are doing exactly what God wants us to do, in His world, for His kingdom, at this present moment in history. So we press on.
When I first moved back to northwest Arkansas to begin the work of church planting, there was a question I was faced with quite regularly: “Why another church?” It’s a good, honest question. It isn’t always asked with the best motives, but the result of facing it is the introspection necessary for the deepening of our own confidence. In fact, it is in the face of such tough questions that our calling really comes to be tested.
If you’re considering planting a church, ask yourself the tough questions before others have the chance. Clarify your calling.
Why Am I Doing This?
Some may assume you’re interested in church planting because it’s easier to start from scratch with your own ideas than to fight the brick wall of established tradition. Others will quietly murmur about how much of a trend or fad “this church planting thing” is. A few may even go so far as to question your character, assuming you’re planting for your ego’s sake. How dare they?!
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