No church planter wants to fail and no church planter starts off expecting to fail. However, for many planters failure is something that they often face because it can be so difficult to define what a successful church plant looks like. Is success in church planting simply measured in baptisms? Sunday attendance? Number of small groups? For the purposes of this blog my hope is to define church planting, and more specifically the church planter, not in terms of failure and success but more in terms of faithfulness.
1. Be faithful to pursue Jesus.
In ministry, we can spend all of our days trying to help others pursue Jesus, yet we struggle to faithfully pursue him in our own life. The end goal for any church planter can’t simply be a planted church; rather, it needs to be to know Christ and the power of his resurrection (Philippians 3). Church planter, do not get so caught up by the demands of ministry that your first love is put on the back burner, or worse yet, even forgotten. Rather, spend your days pursuing Jesus by watching over yourself and your doctrine (1 Timothy 4), by spending your days abiding with him (John 15), by ensuring that each day you have personal devotions and by faithfully receiving the great love that Jesus has for you (John 1). Be faithful to remember that the church plant does not exist simply for others to pursue Jesus but for you to pursue Jesus as well.
2. Be faithful to proclaim Jesus.
When we moved to Madison to church plant, my assumption was that much of my week would include me proclaiming Jesus to those in our community. However, as the church has grown and as responsibilities have been added to my schedule, I continue to find it harder and harder to find time to proclaim Jesus. Even though the responsibilities that come with church planting are real responsibilities that require real time and attention, strive to be faithful in doing the work of the evangelist to those who do not know Jesus. Be faithful to try to reach people out of the harvest and not simply try to build a church by reaching other Christians.
3. Be faithful to God’s timing.
We do not always know the timing of God in church planting. Over the years, I have often wondered where I fit in 1 Corinthians 3. In the timing of God, am I here just to plant gospel seeds? Perhaps my responsibility is to water the seeds of those who have come before me? Maybe this the time that God would give great growth? In reality when we seek to plant a church we do not always know how God will use us. May we be faithful to trust in God’s timing.
4. Be faithful to make disciples.
A few years back I helped with a church planting assessment. During one of the sessions, the candidates were asked to describe their strategy to build their church. One of the potential planters gave a response that I thought to be so very helpful. He responded back that he had no strategy to build his church because Scripture tells us that Jesus will build his church. The question he had was, “Who was going to lead the church in making disciples?” There will always be a pull for planters to see more and more people in the church; however, as you feel that pull make sure that you are not simply growing a crowd but are faithful to make disciples of Jesus Christ.
5. Be faithful to equip the church for ministry.
In the very beginning days of a church plant so much of the responsibility falls on the church planter. Even if the planter wanted to delegate he can’t because he has no one to delegate to! However, even from the beginning the church planter must work hard from moving the plant from his personal ministry to that of a church. In fact, if the planter is looking for a litmus test on how well he is helping make disciples, he can find his answer by looking at how the church is doing the work of the ministry.
6. Be faithful to what God has given you.
Not all church planters are created equal, and not all church planters are given equal amounts of opportunity and resources. In the different parallel accounts of the parable of the talents, the master does not give equally to each servant; however, he does give the same praise of “well done, good and faithful servant” to his servants who wisely used what was given to him. As you set your heart toward being a faithful church planter, concern yourself less with what the Lord gave others, and be faithful to what he has given you.
Published May 4, 2017