My wife and I are church planters in Windsor, Ontario, Canada — directly across the river from Detroit — and our church is part of Send Network. Through Send Network, God has lavished encouragement and many positive, fruitful relationships on us.
A dear brother — also in Send Network — in North Carolina has consistently and persistently prayed for us for years. He writes often to ask how he can pray for us, and he recently asked, “How do you generate vision and passion for planting more churches and sending out disciples?”
I shared five maxims I have gleaned along the way in my church planting journey:
- Repeat the vision often.
Pastor Rick Warren is fond of saying, “vision leaks.” So, we frequently find fresh ways to recast our vision for making disciples and starting more churches. Repeat, repeat, repeat!
In our early days, I invited Send Network church planters from Detroit to come on a Sunday morning and share their journey and passion with our congregation. Because Send Network is a family of churches, their vision for church planting was often compatible with ours. Our people listened and nodded their heads, as if we were all part of some divine conspiracy! It was wonderful!
- Offer larger sermon application.
I’m committed to relevant, gospel-centered, grace-infused sermonic application for the disciples in our care. And in addition to personal application, I try to add applications for a wider audience — the entire church.
For example, when I preached on Acts 1:8, I talked about our personal responsibility to witness to friends, neighbors, fellow students and co-workers. I also included a specific application for our church and talked about our corporate responsibility to make disciples who make disciples and plant more churches. It’s dual-focused application in preaching.
- Pray persistently.
“Prayer is not preparation for the battle — prayer is the battle,” wrote Oswald Chambers.
The enemy would love to steal vision and passion for church planting from your heart and from your church. So pray! Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
Remember, Paul asked the Colossian believers to pray “…that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains” (Colossians 4:3 ESV). We cannot plant vibrant, life-giving churches without prayer.
- Strategically invite leaders into the game.
I refuse to let leaders and potential leaders sit on the sidelines. Early in our planting adventure, I invited emerging leaders to take ownership, and I’m still at it! I also buy books for our leaders and pay for them to attend local conferences.
Get your leaders as close to the fire as you can. Invite them into church planting initiatives, even when it may be above their heads or beyond their experience, and include them in the debriefing. “What was your best takeaway from this event?” “What did you learn?” “How can we apply this to our church?” “Where else can you use this learning in your world?”
- Use hospitality purposefully.
My wife and I use hospitality opportunities to infect people with church planting vision and church multiplication possibilities. We intentionally target specific people for dinner or coffee and dessert and intentionally steer the conversation toward vision and passion for multiplying gospel-centered churches.
Titus 1:8 instructs elders to “be hospitable.” We must be hospitable, so we are using our hospitality purposefully to influence and inspire our guests to become more intentional about planting churches for the glory of God.
Patty and I believe one of the best ways to increase the temperature for evangelism and discipleship is to model this through purposeful, meaningful and strategic hospitality. We sit down together every month and tactically invite groups into our home with the vison of providing fellowship and stimulating personal growth and discipleship.
Hospitality needs to be valued and practiced by church planting couples, especially in today’s hurting culture. People are lonely, even when they are surrounded by crowds of people. Hospitality is an opportunity for Patty and me to show the gospel of Jesus to others, and thus influence their thinking about starting new churches.
This is how we generate vision and excitement for church planting.