Church planting is tough!
Often times when I reflect on my experience starting a church at 25, I realize that I was naive. There was a lot that I didn’t understand about the church, the gospel, the Spirit, the mission of Jesus, leadership, spiritual authority, disciplemaking, preaching, worship, sin, accountability, and spiritual transformation.
I’m amazed when I think that we actually got a church off the ground. And yet I am quite aware that it was not something that I did or our church planting team did.
It was clearly something God did. In reality, God is the one who plants churches.
I’m not the church planter. God is the church planter.
And until I understood that, I don’t think that my efforts had much impact.
In fact, I view the first four years of our church plant as “church planting Dave’s way.” I thought I knew what to do and how to get the church started. I was wrong. It was a hard lesson to discover that I had been relying too much on my own abilities and not on God as the source of everything!
After a rocky start and some significant challenges, I began to rely on God and started “planting a church God’s way.”
5 Keys to Church Planting God’s Way
1. Recognize God is the Source of Everything. You cannot do anything on your own. Your hard work and diligence and sacrifice is meaningless in your own strength. John 15:5, Jesus says, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.” Believe it. Accept it. Don’t try to plant a church on your own. Recognize God as your source of strength, power, wisdom, and love.
2. Don’t Focus on Worship Gatherings. Jesus never did. He focused on making disciples. He instructed His disciples in Matthew 28 to “Go therefore and make disciples.” He didn’t didn’t train His disciples to start services to make disciples, but rather to make disciples to start churches.
3. Align with Jesus’ Mission. It’s not about having a great vision statement or mission statement. Your church has a mission – it’s to join Jesus’ mission. What was Jesus mission? In Luke 19:10, Jesus says that He came to “seek and to save the lost. ” He was on a rescue mission. And He sent His disciples on this same mission – to make disciples who make disciples. Make certain that your mission is His mission. Success is found in joining Jesus in His mission.
4. Spend a Lot of Time in Prayer. In Mark 1:35, we see Jesus starting his day early in a quite place in prayer. If Jesus (who was God in human flesh) made it His priority to spend time every day with the Father in prayer, so should we. Don’t just talk about prayer, pray! Devote yourself to prayer.
5. Preach the Gospel to Yourself. No one needs the gospel more than a church planter. In fact, no one needs the gospel more than you do. Don’t be deceived in thinking that only non-Chrisians need the gospel. Every Christian needs the gospel every day – for as Paul writes in Romans 1:16, “it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”
There are probably more keys than just these five, but I hope that if you are trying to plant a church, you are encouraged to rely on God.
Remember: You are not the church planter. He is the Church Planter.