Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Ecclesia Network’s church planting training with my good friend Steven Evans. It was an amazing week filled with unbelievable training combined with potential and promising friendships. Our group of fellow church planters was intentionally kept small (about 15 of us), which made the overall feel more comfortable and intimate. Over the next few days/weeks I will be posting on our time of learning, praying, and planning. Here is the first part. Now part 2.
Why not plant a church?
I haven’t been often asked “Why are you planting a church?”, which is kind of odd actually, but people do wonder. I know from talking with people that there is somewhat of a stigma out there concerning planting a church. I’ve been asked if I was part of a cultish group, told I was somewhat of a rebel, and caused quite a surprise with some people because I’m only 27 and work at a public school. For most people the usual question has something to do with a building, land, people, and resources. “Do you have a building or are you in the process of building one on land somewhere?”. That’s more of the usual question I get.
I’ve also been asked why I don’t try to revitalize an existing church. Honestly, I don’t think God has brought us to that place yet. There have been too many indicators pointing us to our own backyard here in Phoenix to turn around and go elsewhere. It would be nice to find an existing church that could pay me a decent wage and kick back there. But that’s not the task we’ve been given.
So then perhaps a better question is, “Why not plant a church?” Doesn’t the kingdom of God need to continue to spread and make the presence of God known? Aren’t there people who still aren’t reached and shown the love of God? Does everyone and their mother have Jesus as the center of their lives, making themselves disciples of Him? Aren’t there people I still haven’t served?
One of the things we discussed early on last week were the marks of someone called to plant. Two key marks we discussed: the gospel is the solution to the world’s dysfunction and the Church is the carrier and the repository of this gospel. I believe this is at the heart of and is the heart of church planting. Something in the world has gone horribly awry and Jesus is the renewing one who is putting things back on track. Our task is to join him in the renewal of things by going forth as a community of redeeming reconciliation and peace. This is the church.
So, again, why not plant a church to further unveil the kingdom of God?
“We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard.”
This is a part of Colossians 1 taken from The Message. The imagery is one that simultaneously takes us back to Genesis and addresses our present situation. We remember God and his creative power and the reality that this is “his orchard.” At the same time we are his workers in his orchard. The task is given to us. We’re not supposed to hiding the love and light of God within ourselves. We are to be a light unto the world in all we do.
Another important facet of the text above is the idea of the world being God’s orchard and those whom take care of orchards. So who does takes care of orchards? Farmers, ofcourse. They till the land, water the crops, reap the harvest. Year after year they do the same thing again and again and wait for its produce. The interesting thing is that they aren’t the ones who make things grow. They can’t and won’t ever be able to do that. Faith is needed in the time between the planting and the harvesting.
Here is the key: “Farmers aren’t flashy; they’re faithful.” As church planters, we are to be the same: full of faith. We are each called to go to certain people and to work His orchard, whether it seems fruitful to us or not. We’re called to simply remain faithful year in and year out. Farmers don’t get handed many accolades, yet without their faithful work done by mimicking God, we’d all be in trouble. It is vital to keep this in mind.
So any thought?