I have been involved with the Church Planting Department at Bethlehem Baptist Church for the past 15 years. Over the years, three things have come to my attention that I believe are very important to the resident church planter and often are overlooked when beginning the journey.
1. The call to ministry
The goal of ministry, I believe, is found in Ephesians 4:11-13: “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
God has given us different personalities, different abilities, and different skills, and it is so important that you discover your calling. Make sure you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has called you. Don’t pursue the calling because you heard someone say, “You definitely would make a wonderful pastor.” Take your time in studying the Scripture and praying. Spend time with God, listening to Him and hearing His voice speaking wisdom in directing you. Be patient waiting for God to do His work in your life. There will be difficult times ahead and your character will be tested many times, because leading people is a difficult challenge. Only God will be the one to sustain you during difficult times.
2. The balance of life
This is an area many ministers, young and old, have great difficulty in exercising. Many times the work of church life, whether it is in group meetings or with individuals, takes precedence. There is nothing more devastating to a family than when the pastor breaks a prescheduled family member’s appointment. I cannot stress enough the importance of balancing your schedule and then sticking to it. At Bethlehem Baptist Church, we divide the week into ministry and non-ministry tasks. We use a modular plan to help us in scheduling the seven days of the week. Each day is divided into three modules: morning, afternoon, and evening. Non-ministry should account for seven to 10 modules each week. This method will help you create balance between church and family in your weekly schedule. I realize there are exceptions in each week; however, you should plan each week, share it with your wife and the family at the beginning of the week, and make every effort to discipline yourself to carry out the plan. It is so important to maintain family health. Often more attention is given to the mission of the church than the mission of the family. Remember, if you don’t have good family health, you may not have an effective ministry in your church. When you come to the end of your ministry, don’t let it be said of you, by your wife or children, that church filled all your time.
3. The team
The importance of gathering the team cannot be overemphasized. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says it very well: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up.” Together we can do better work and can help each other in difficult times. In verse 12 we read that a threefold cord is not easily broken. This biblical truth points us to the importance of building a team that is united and shares a common vision, reflecting the command of the Great Commission. When you are sure of your call and ready begin the journey, spend time in prayer, talking to God and allowing Him to point you to those who will share your vision. You will want to ask for and check character references, background, experience, previous work, and family. Go slow, take your time. This is all about doing it God’s way in choosing his team for your ministry. The value of each member of your team is imperative.
Published August 12, 2018