Church planters must live in the community they are trying to reach with the gospel – and among the people of the “church.”
“When we got here we noticed that the majority of ministers and leaders did not live in the communities where their churches or parishioners were. Ministers of churches in poorer neighborhoods commuted from safer and more comfortable ones; ministers of churches in Manhattan commuted from more affordable ones. They did so because to move in with the people they were trying to reach entailed great sacrifices (whether moving economically ‘up’ or ‘down.’) We learned that it just doesn’t work. In a myriad of subtle ways, the leaders were unaware of issues their people really faced, and their ministries didn’t ‘connect.’ Fortunately, Jesus didn’t commute from heaven and the spirit world, but moved in with us (John 1:14).”
—Tim Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church
Can you plant a church if you don’t live in the community you are trying to reach with the gospel message? Yes.
But is that the wisest thing to do?
(Note: I’m not saying a pastor has to live in a parsonage next door to the church. But I do believe you need to live among the people you are reaching – to dwell among them.)
Church planters need to incarnate the gospel by being with people and close to people. This requires Proximity and Presence! How do you do this?
1. Live within the culture you are reaching
– like a missionary…like Jesus.
2. Learn the language.
3. Adopt cultural ways.
4. Be available to meet needs.
You can reach people you relate to. How can you reach people in the city if you don’t live in the city? How can you relate to people in the community if you don’t live in the community? How can you shepherd people from a great distance away?