The Send Network Church Planting Blog

3 Elements of a church planting movement

May 17, 2017 by Noah Oldham

Every church plant has one of two destinations: monument or movement. The odds are, only a few generations from now, most of the churches that exist and are planted this year will be gone. When that happens, what will be left behind to show for all the physical, emotional and spiritual blood, sweat and tears? What will people remember?

No one sets out to build a monument. Every planter wants to be a part of a movement, even building one if necessary. But for that to be possible, there must be a few, specific elements in place. Without these, no matter our hard word, ingenuity or genius, movements will fade into monuments. As you consider these elements, I pray God would burn them into your soul and they would find a place in the mission of not only your church, but your life.

An insatiable passion for the worship of Jesus
Planting churches is hard. We don’t live in a neutral world among neighbors who are always happy or even opinion-less about a new church springing up in their community. Especially in some of the darkest and unreached places, there is a great deal of spiritual warfare fueling pushback from people or organizations. Many cities are dangerous or difficult to afford to live in. The pressures of church life, family life and even personal health seem to increase in the midst of planting a church. Add to these issues the goal of making disciples who make more disciples, and it is plain to see that the road of planting is not for the faint of heart.

So church planting must find its fuel in something other than past church experience, the pursuit of a different career or even a simple desire to find a way to serve Christ. Church planting movements must be fueled by an insatiable passion for the worship of Jesus. The heartbeat of movement-building planters must be to see men, women, boys and girls everywhere love Jesus and follow Him with their whole lives.

An unrelenting stance on the truth of Scripture
True, the Bible never tells us to go plant churches. It never uses that phrasing. Instead, we are told by the Lord Jesus to go make disciples who make more disciples. And that, by definition, is church planting; Jesus building His church through the obedient Great-Commission work of His people. But making disciples will not happen if we don’t hold to the Scriptures as the breathed out Word of God. Passionate Bible preaching requires belief in the truth of God’s Word. Effective evangelism necessitates trust in God’s promises to open hearts and save sinners. Accountability and growth in spiritual maturity only happen in a context where God’s Word is seen as the unchanging standard by which we are called to shape our lives.

People who don’t stand on God’s Word can plant a church. They can do it with all sorts of natural gifts and for all sorts of reasons, but they can’t build a church-planting movement. A movement requires a continuous breathing in of the breathed-out Word of God by leaders, tying their hearts to the heart of God and equipping them with His disciple-making tools.

A non-negotiable vision
Ask any runner, one of the greatest hindrances to increasing speed and minimizing time is sideways energy. Any movement left or right is going to hinder movement forward. The same thing is true for a church planting movement. After a church plants and as it grows in maturity it seems to be presented with an endless amount of opportunities for which to devote its time and resources. Strategies for reaching those outside the church are added to the innumerable programs to grow disciples inside the church and before you know it, church planting is a thing of the past and an afterthought saved for the distant future.

What separates movements from monuments is the tenacity to stick to the vision of reproducing, no matter what comes. The vision has to be non-negotiable. If it isn’t, there will always be something vying for the energy of the church in another direction, even very good things. And without the vision of being a church that plants other churches as the plumb line, those other directions will win out. They almost always do.

One final word of encouragement for movement dreamers: Some of the world’s most talented have built the world’s greatest monuments. Love Him, believe His Word and give yourself to an unchanging vision and watch God birth a movement.

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