Lessons in Church Planting

It’s been a while since I posted anything, funny how life gets busy and crowds out certain things, like posting to a blog.

I started this blog to recount the process of planting a new church, among other ramblings and musings. My family and I started this process back in August or September 2012, we attended the church plant classes and seminars, core group meetings, get-togethers and cookouts, we participated in planning sessions and chatted around bonfires, discussed cores values, mission statements, and polity but once the sandals hit the pavement, the reality is some people are not cut out for gardening.

Gardening

So what, if anything, did I learn from my 8 month expedition into church planting? Here are a few things to contemplate if you are considering participating in a church plant:

1. Why are you considering participating in a church plant?
a. My current church environment has become stagnant and I’m looking for a change.
b. I always wanted to start my own church.
c. I feel burdened by God to invest my life into this specific new work.

2. Is your entire family fully onboard and are open to participating in the church plant?
a. I’m not sure but my family will follow where I lead.
b. They would rather attend elsewhere but will do as they are told.
c. We have all prayed together and individually and are in agreement this is what God wants from us at this time.

3. What is the polity of the new church plant?
a. I have no idea what a polity is, are you sure you didn’t misspell policy?
b. They are just starting and have no defined/established polity in place yet.
c. The leadership and top down organizational structure of the new church has been clearly defined and explained in detail.

4. What style of worship will be employed in the new church?
a. I’m not sure but assume it will be the same or similar to our mother church.
b. It doesn’t matter and is really irrelevant, no one attends a church because of the worship style.
c. The “style” has been discussed with the core group of planters and is a style that the majority believes will best aid them in their worship of the Lord.

5. What is your role in the new church plant?
a. I will help prepare the soil and plant the seed.
b. I will water.
c. I will tend the plants, pull weeds, and help with the harvest.

amish-farm

For me and my family, it has been a learning experience and a transition time.

1. I had gotten to a point where church was just a habit or routine, I was not getting much from it and was looking for a change, so why not participate in a church plant?

2. My wife was ok with participating, not sure if it was because she was just being an obedient wife or if she was really convinced this is what our family should be doing at this time, I think the later but obviously by my not knowing for sure, we should have had more communication.

3. My two youngest sons were a bit indifferent but my oldest was completely against it, he has a lot of friends in the youth group at our former church and not only were there no boys his age in the new plant(which we knew going in), as it turns out the polity of the new church had no provision for a youth leader or youth program.

4. Worship style matters. Churches have divided, denominations have divided over the style of worship. Should this be? Probably not. Is it possible for me to attend a Pentecostal, Anglican, Methodist, Church of God, Church of Christ, Baptist or other church and worship God with them? Yes it is and yes I have. Do I have a preference? Yes I do. It is important to know the planned style of worship, it  enables you to participate in the corporate worship service and enhances your worship experience. If the worship songs are all going to be country style ballads and your preference is Christian heavy metal then the Cowboy Church is probably not going to be your best choice as a home church.

5. Church planting is hard work. It is challenging and trying. Not everyone that starts the work will see it through to completion. Does it mean those that work for a few hours and then move on are not as Godly as those that worked the entire day? Dunno. Maybe. Or maybe the Lord will use their contributions but has another field he has planned to transition them to a little further down the road.

6. As with any good marriage, so it is with a church plant, communication is key to avoiding problems and pitfalls. Communicating with your family to ensure their needs are being met, communicating with church plant team members to ensure you are on the same page and have the same vision, and communicating with God through prayer to ensure you are in His will.

Ecclesiastes 3:

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

What gain has the worker from his toil? 10 I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.

14 I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. 15 That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away. (ESV)

Crossroads

So now what? You signed up to plant a new church and have come to the realization this is not what you thought it was going to be? You feel trapped. How long do you stay? Is there a graceful way to exit? Will there be hurt feelings or animosity? Will those that remain judge you and your family as infidels or will they bless you and wish you Godspeed on your journey through this life?

Hopefully they are friends and desire what is best for you and your family. Hopefully you can have a civil parting where you bless them and wish them well on their journey as they do to you and your family.

1 Peter 4:
The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. (ESV)

Godspeed brothers and sisters on your journey, may the Lord be pleased and honored with all you do!

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