We consider it an important value that everyone gets to play, but leadership is limited. They need to be tested first. Active involvement is open to all of God’s children. We are not to limit anyone because of their situation in life.
Once people are involved, they need to prove themselves faithful. When tasks are assigned, we observe their commitment to the task. Are they faithful? Are they committed?
Paul clearly expressed this important principle to Timothy. “And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless” (1 Tim 3:10).
Salvation is open to all people as God wants a personal relationship with everyone. Ministry involvement is open to all of God’s children without putting any limitations on people. But Leadership in the church is limited only to those who have proven themselves faithful to the tasks assigned to them. Likewise, they need to be people of character in their personal lives, family, and in society.
People’s reputation in the society is vital as the community sees the church through the people of the church, especially its leaders. So everyone gets to play, but church leadership is limited to the faithful.
Join the discussion and add your thoughts. What have you learned?
Please share briefly in the comments section on the website.
* Book recommendations on various topics I write on are available at my Resources Page.
** For a list of books that I’ve recently read, here is my Reading List.
The ultimate aim with church planting is to bless the community. But as with any task, it’s a great challenge to just get started. It’s wonderful to talk, plan, and organize, but you’ve got to begin somewhere. Here are some first steps for church planting.
Connect with people in your community. God created us as relational beings. Find ways to relate with people in a genuine way. Get involved in community organizations, residents associations, clubs, and any group that is organized to help the community.
Connections at work are natural and collegial. People from various backgrounds unite for the purpose of a job or the task of the organization. Those connections are genuine, and sometimes, long term.
Help every person in your group to connect with those they have natural relationships with. Make this the norm for your group.
Make a list of at all the people you connect with on a regular basis. Daily, pray for each person on that list. The people may be different from you, and may be coming from various backgrounds, but make it a point to pray regularly. As you pray, hard hearts are softened, and God is working in the hearts of each of these individuals.
First, share your life with the people you connect with. Genuinely love and care for the people in your life.
Share your time with those around you. Make sure to connect with people outside your scheduled work hours, and organized meetings. Be generous with your time.
Yes, you need your privacy. But at the same time, we are relational beings, and we find the most fulfillment in community. As you live out this characteristic, you are sharing your life with others.
Ultimately, share the best you have: your relationship with Jesus. Love, relate, share, and pray for people, but ultimately, love them enough to share the best in your life. This should not be a sales pitch, but a heartfelt invitation to build the ultimate relationship with the one who loves you with an everlasting love.
As you do all of the steps above, begin to gather people into a small group. At first, your gathering will be a group of seekers and new followers of Jesus. Let your life be a witness to them as you share more of Jesus through this group. Step by step, take the people through what it means to be a Christ follower.
Beginning a small group gives you more focus as you share the message of Jesus. You have a place to bring people to after you bring them into your life. They also have an opportunity to connect with others and build relationships. Together as a group, you can begin to do the steps mentioned above, and the cycle can be repeated.
I’ve known many who were excellent evangelists. They were good at presenting the gospel in a compelling way. Their approach was appealing and convincing.
Others were powerful people who were used by God in a mighty way. Through their work, many were healed, and lives were changed in a dramatic way. Seeing their life and ministry, I am reminded of the book of Acts.
With all of this great impact, I’ve seen them with small gatherings. They are not able to keep the people they bring to Christ through their ministry. The new believers they have brought to the faith are scattered throughout the churches in their area. Some say that at least they are being cared for and fed spiritually some place else, but I believe that is not a responsible way to do the ministry.
Keeping people together is a leadership issue. As you develop your leadership skills, you will be able to gather and keep more people. As you grow, the group grows.
Finally, be willing to hold people loosely. Be willing to release them to live out God’s plan for their lives. Sometimes there will be people who are called to plant a church on their own. Bless them freely. Be open to give them what they need to get started. Do what you can to release people for ministry whenever you have a chance.
The more you try to restrict people from leaving, the more tensions you’ll face. There will be more people dissatisfied and unfilled. They will feel like they are being “used” rather than blessed by your ministry. Be open to release people as soon as their hearts are ready.
I am aware of the powerful impact of church planting that is highly organized, planned and well funded. The short and long term effects are well worth the efforts. It is really amazing to see the phenomenal growth when you begin your first service with several hundred people. In this series of posts, I want to explore another approach which I believe is accessible to more people.
This focuses on building a small community of those who are followers of Jesus and those warmed by His fire. In last week’s post, I mentioned Three Basic Tasks that are important for such an effort to have a long term impact. It requires one leader who is committed to the group for a long time. Along with the leader caring for the group, the members must provide mutual care. Intentional outreach as individuals and as a group is essential to fulfill the command of Christ.
If the leader and the entire group can stay focused on these three tasks, that small group can grow and develop into a church that impacts the community. The trajectory of growth will be gradual, but this process can be done by almost anyone who has a calling. The development and growth of the leader will be parallel with the growth of the group.
God’s connection with people began with relationships. With Adam and Eve, God spent time with them walking through the garden. It shows a relationship that was personal. To redirect people back to his ways, he sent his prophets. To redeem people, he sent His one and only son Jesus. He came and spent his life building relationships.
Opportunities to connect with people in your community needs to be relational. When it is relational, it is natural. When it is set up as a program, it is fake, and never lasts. Surely it won’t be meaningful.
Look for opportunities to relate naturally. Be intentional to put yourself in situations where you connect with your friends. Never do this only for the sake of networking with others. Do it because you genuinely care about others. Do it because you love to help people to face life with all its difficulties.
Be generous enough with your time to build relationships. Of course you need to guard your personal and family time. Make your priorities clear for yourself and others as well. You don’t want to spread yourself out too thin.
For some, the opposite is true. They guard their time so much that they go to the other extreme. They absolutely have time for no one except themselves and their families. Learn to be generous with your time. Build friendships personally and as a family. Be a connecting family, a helping family.
When you are generous with your time and build genuine relationships, the opportunities for evangelism will be all around you. Let God take the lead. Allow Him to open doors through the relationships you have already built.
When needs, pain, and struggles are shared, that is the time to be genuine in reaching out with the love of Jesus. Don’t be pushy or begin to preach at people. Just be there for them when they are in need. Share the love of Jesus with them. Tell them about the difference that Jesus has made in your life.
Relational Church Planter
A Church Planter who takes a relational approach considers programs second, and makes relationships primary. Instead of thinking of the next program to reach your community, think about the next relationship that will help to reach your community. Keep building relationships, and keep responding to needs. Next thing you know, you’ll have a church in your hands.
The terms are often confusing: House Church, Church Plant, Mission Station, and a host of others. Each term has its own implications, and the proponents of each one will have their own values. The prevailing question is regarding what constitutes a Church.
I have noticed potential church planters often hesitate moving forward. Fear often grips them when they think of the elaborate systems in existing churches. Things such as buildings, staff, budgets, programs, and other organizational factors take a lot of work. In fact, these things did not appear overnight, but developed over a long period of time. These things develop as the church goes through its natural cycles of development.
There is a natural and healthy life cycle in the development of each local church. A proper understanding of that life cycle will provide us with balanced expectations. In a future post we will look further at that life cycle. For now, let’s look at a basic understanding of what constitutes a local church.
To me a local congregation, regardless of its size, needs to have three aspects to be considered a church in its most basic form. Other aspects and various programs may be added as the church develops, but for now, let’s look at the three basic ones.
The group needs a leader who is committed for the long term. A short term leader will not do. This leader needs to see the group live out its purpose through difficult and challenging times.
The leader must work to develop oneself and others in their leadership. As the leader grows in leadership, the group will grow.
Sufficient care needs to be given to the group members by the leader. The leader also needs to ensure that the members care for each other.
As care is given, the morale of the group stays healthy. The group identity is made firm as they relate to each other.
If the people are only focused on themselves, the group will become “ingrown” and unhealthy.
They need to reach out to others as a group and as individuals. This has to be intentional and planned.
There are people all around us who are needy and in pain. We must reach out to them with the compassion and love of Jesus.
Church planters need to focus on these three basic factors. Without complicating things, work hard to ensure these three things are in place.
If you can devote your efforts on these three factors, you can be a church planter. Keep your job. You can do the ministry and be bi-vocational.
Make sure to get your pastor’s blessing, and remain submitted to leadership. Don’t go out without the covering of your leaders.
So, have you been thinking about stepping out in ministry along with your job? Has the highly organized structures of churches kept you doubting if you can do it?
Leave your response in the comments section. Let’s start a conversation.
Let’s get real. Church planting sounds awesome when we talk about creating space for a move of God in a new community. But all the words of hype and glamour fade once you get into the reality of committing five to ten years of your life to an idea.
Then fear sets in, and you begin to ask questions. Once the loneliness begins, and you don’t seem to get the results you wanted, things begin to get scary. Here are four questions that I’ve asked, and continue to ask.
1. Do I have what it takes to plant a church?
During my days as a seminary student, I was glad to prepare myself for the ministry that God had for me. But once I stepped into church planting, everything changed. All of a sudden, I’m not sure what I’m prepared for.
The tasks were numerous. It began with having to create a broad five year plan and a detailed one year plan. After moving to the new location, we struggled with our focus on planting while looking for a job, a place to live, and all the details of settling into a new community.
The next step was to gather a core group and begin to share our vision for the new church. Vision? I was busy with Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and other important things to get me “ready” for the ministry. But how do I plant a church?
All my reading on church planting seemed to have dissipated into thin air. Facing the heat of the situation, I was not so sure of myself anymore. Can I do this? Do I have what it takes to plant a church?
2. What if no one shows up?
The first few small group meetings were tough, but the toughest ones were after the newness dried off. Will they continue to come? Are these groups truly meeting their needs? They seem happy, but happy enough to come back?
The same struggle was there when the worship services started. It started well with lots of motivation and excitement. The question always remained in my mind: Will these people come back next week? Is there anything going on in these meetings for these people to show up again?
Then it happened.
There were those meetings where no one showed up. We continued to call, encourage, and meet new people as if nothing went wrong. But that fear of empty seats was as real as ever.
3. Will I have enough money?
Our own tithe and some offering money is all that came in. The financial stretch was tremendous, but we held on. Borrowing was out of the picture, but we had to have more. Outreach and other programs cost money, but I was not the “asking” type.
You hope people would catch the vision and begin to give more. The greater hope is that they would Make a firm commitment to this new venture and begin to tithe. Waiting for people to respond can be a great challenge.
I was really intrigued by a statement I heard from Steve Nicholson: “Money follows vision.” I had a vision, but maybe I didn’t have enough confidence in that vision. Yet God provided at the right time.
4. Am I wasting my time?
How much time should be devoted to the process of planting a church? I used to think that five years is enough to get things up and running. But to get things going in the direction you want for the church, I would suggest committing at least ten years or more to the process.
But this was the problem. I kept wondering if my time was better spent somewhere else doing something different. Maybe I would have accomplished much more if I would have invested these years at another location. Am I wasting my time?
The fear that settles all other fears
Whenever I think of doing anything else, I fear being out of God’s plan for my life. You see, for this season of my life (long season), God wants me to dream, start, and create. This is what I enjoy, and this is what drives me. Until I sense the release from that calling, I must continue. Fears will always be there. The risks are outrageous. Yet I know that God is faithful.
Do you know someone who is in the process of planting a church at this time? Talk to your pastor and get the contact information for someone who is planting. Call them or email them with some encouraging words. As pioneers on the front lines, bless them. If you’re not able to get information on church planters, I’ll get you connected with a few. Just email me using the contact form on this website.
Thanks for caring and encouraging.
Who needs another church?
We have planted churches in cities and towns where churches already exist, and sometimes the obvious question arises: Why another church? Aren’t there enough churches already? Here below are some of the reasons for new churches.
Newly planted churches experience more vibrancy than older ones. People are motivated as a new community begins to form. They’re motivated towards action, since this new movement demands action. In a new church plant, there’s no time for discussion over various issues of the faith. Just simple, pure, action is required to get this movement off the ground.
As the new church reaches out to the community with the love of Jesus, more people are touched. Jesus went out from village to village and town to town with the message of the good news of God’s Kingdom. Along with teaching about the Kingdom of God, he performed the works of this kingdom as well. The “words” and the “works” went side by side.
Ultimately, this is the best method that anyone can suggest. Teach the words of the kingdom, and do the works of the kingdom. Your community needs this good news now more than ever. The good news that God is not all about having some philosophical discussion, but He is a God of action. He wants to step into your life and bring firm and lasting change. Effective outreach into the community demands truly changed lives.
Involvement of more people
Every aspect of the new church requires the involvement of more people. People are needed to set up chairs, banners and signs, to pray for people, to counsel people, and to do a host of other tasks that are needed for the new church. In existing churches, there are plenty of people already active in those roles. Others are simply watching these people do the work and wondering how they can be involved. Although there is no objection for people to get involved in existing churches, but there just seems to be no space.
A new church plant creates that space naturally. People don’t need an invitation to get involved. They simply recognize that there is more space, and move into those spaces. They see the need and feel the freedom to fill those needs.
More leaders are needed as the new church develops. The new organization naturally requires people to take responsibility in various ways. Naturally, as more people get involved, more will be developed as leaders. Much of this will emerge according to need. You will be able to distinguish those people who are ready to move into leadership roles. These are the people who take action before they are asked to. Others look at a challenging situation and will begin to make suggestions for improvement.
These are the people who are ripe for development as leaders. Without assigning titles, allow them to function in roles that benefit the new church. Eventually, you can add titles as the need arises.
So there are numerous reasons why your community needs another church. Maybe you are one of those reasons. Maybe you are the person who needs the love of Jesus to penetrate your troubled life and make an impact. Or you may need to be inspired by the challenge of a new community. Some people need an opportunity for involvement, and others are ready to step into roles of leadership. You may not know that you are ready for leadership, but as you step in and get involved, you will notice the flow.
And if you are in the first category of needing the love of Jesus to penetrate your heart and life, feel free to contact me. Use the contact form on the website www.barnabas.in/email and I will reply to you. I would love to speak to you. Allowing Jesus to come and take a prominent place in your life will be the most rewarding step you will ever take.
After struggling with failed church plants, stalled attempts, and some successes, I’ve had the privilege of helping several church planters. The road has not been easy for any of these people who have put themselves on the front lines.
Some of them bailed out after several years of struggle, and others press on. It has been painful for me as I begin to wonder how I could have been a better support for them. The questions are endless, and the answers few.
Through all of this, here are three things that failed church planters struggle with, and how you can help.
1. They don’t feel loved.
These planters are often living in a new place, far from friends and family. They long for deep relationships. This is part of the risk they have taken, but it is certainly an important need for them.
Find ways to reach out to them in genuine love. Regular phone calls are the best if you are far away. Even if they don’t call you, call them. Periodic emails telling them you remember them in your prayers. Give them updates about their home church and the people they know.
Whenever possible, visit them and pray with them and for them. Lay hands on them and bless them in the name of Jesus. In such a tangible way, express your love for them. Then, figure out a way to have a meal together with them.
2. There’s no one to believe in them.
Whatever happens, through success and failure, believe that they will succeed. Especially when there are failures and setbacks, express your confidence in them to hear God’s voice and to move in the Spirit.
When you believe in them, it will come through your words and actions in a powerful way. This will be a refreshing gesture that they desperately need.
Having people who believe in them will certainly build their confidence and enable to step out in faith and believe God. The Kingdom of God will do its work in the gradual process that Jesus taught. They just need to hang in there and trust.
3. No one is there for them when they are in a bind.
These people are taking some of the greatest risks they have ever taken in their lives. Having a consistent, supportive backup for them is a great asset. It impacts the level of risks they will take, and the level of confidence they will have.
In times of emergencies such as hospitalization, unexpected and expensive car repairs, and other surprise expenses, open your hearts and pockets and help them. Let it be a gesture of your support of their passion for the lost.
Have a listening ear. Sometimes, you may need to write an email or call them and offer to listen to them. I remember when my father passed away, so many sent their condolences by email, Facebook, and twitter. One of my college buddies wrote and said, “Hey, if you just need to talk, just call me.” At that point, that sounded like a refreshing offer and I took him up on it. I don’t remember the conversation, but I talked, and he listened.
A rare breed
Church planters are a rare breed. Be sure to love them, believe in them, and be there for them. It will pay back much dividends for God’s Kingdom in your favor.
Do you know a church planter? Check with your pastor and get information on a church planter that your church supports. Then love them, believe in them, and be there for them.
By looking at any local church, we can understand that not all who attend are equally committed to Jesus and his church. These variations in commitment among the people may be quite drastic. At our church in Adoor, we have the entire spectrum of people from those who are fully committed to the least committed attendees.
Years ago, I learned a principle called Circles of Commitment that helped me to understand these variations and minister to people according to their needs. The people in any given church come with various levels of commitment to Christ and to his church. Unless we understand this, we may become disillusioned as we minister to people.
The diagram above illustrates the five levels of commitment that people have as they attend church. Those in the core are fully committed to Jesus and his church. The ones in the outer circle may only come occasionally when there are special programs or when their friends urge them. Our goal is to move people from the outer levels of less commitment to the inner levels of greater commitment.
I consider our community as that large group of people who are loosely connected with our church. Some of these connections are families, friends, co-workers, neighbours, and anyone our people relate with on a daily basis. These people are our first target group for the extension of God’s kingdom and love.
All who attend the worship service are part of the crowd. Many may be unbelievers with no commitment to Jesus, but we encourage them to keep coming. A church that actively reaches out will have a larger crowd. These people will be the first to accept Christ in your church.
Although they are not believers, there is something that draws them to the church. The worship and sermons may not be so meaningful to them, but they certainly will be “warmed” by the fire of the Holy Spirit.
Those who have made a firm decision to follow Christ are part of this group, the congregation. If your church has no official membership roll, then these are your members.
These people consider this their church. When there are weddings, funerals, and other important events in their lives, this is the church they call on. These people will come on Sundays, but you will not get any further involvement from them.
Those who take the next step towards maturity in Christ are part of the committed group. These people will attend small groups, other special meetings, and make an attempt to tithe regularly. Once people are in this area, they begin to take more responsibility for their personal lives.
The Core of any church consists of people who are willing to take responsibility for various functions that are important to the church. These people are an integral part of the life of the church.
This is the smallest yet most crucial group for the growth and stability of the church. These are people you can really count on week after week.
*The concepts and the diagram above are from the book Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren.
Values determine who we are and what we do. They give us direction in ministry and life. Our practices are determined by what we value.
1. Bible Teaching – Theology and Practice of The Kingdom
The Kingdom of God and its effects are the basis for much of the Old Testament perspectives on the coming Messiah.
When Jesus the Messiah came, he preached and did the works of God’s Kingdom.
We see the Kingdom of God as an important theme that is intertwined throughout the Bible.
We wish to see the “already and not yet” of the kingdom in our words and deeds.
This is expressed through healing that is physical, emotional, and social. It is also expressed through doing justice and deliverance for those held captive physically and spiritually.
2.Culturally Current – Culturally Relevant Mission
One of the vital purposes of the church is to reach out to those who are lost.
The Good News should be delivered to all peoples and to every type of people.
We are to “translate” the message of Jesus into the language and forms of various peoples an cultures.
We wish to be creative and innovative in doing ministry to reach those who are far away from God.
Simplicity – the value of the next generation. We don’t do things for the sake of “effect.”
3. Ministry to the Poor – Compassionate Ministry
God has a special place in his heart for the lost, poor, outcasts, and foreigners.
We are to reach them with the compassion of Christ.
There must be an attitude of mercy as we reach out to the poor.
We must value the words of Jesus “as you have done to the least of these, you have done to me.”
We must be moved with compassion for the poor – regardless of the cause of their sufferings.
4. Evangelism – Reconciling Community
The basic reason for the incarnation of Jesus is to reconcile people to God and to each other.
We are committed to being a community of healing so that we can reconcile people to God where sin has separated them from him.
Our personal preferences must be put aside to minister to those who are lost.
We are to be a community that reconciles people to God.
Purposely break barriers of race, culture, gender, and class for the purpose of the Gospel.
5. Worship – Experiencing God
We respond to God and his love for us through worship.
Since God’s presence is real in our midst, we respond to him in worship.
Praise, adoration and expressions of our love to God are important aspects of worship.
We avoid hype and manipulation in our worship.
A natural interaction with the people and their God is our expectation in worship.
These are important core values that we value and cherish in our church. We wish to see these elements expressed and practised in the church and the lives of the believers.
This and other useful posts are listed on the Ministry Resources page.
After being involved in several church plants at various levels, I still feel the urge to go plant another one. I am not sure If I still have the stamina that I had during my earlier years, but the desire is still there. Every time I talk to a church planter, my heart is ignited. I am excited to see how God works in a fresh way each time in every new setting.
Confirm your calling
Because of the challenging nature of church planting, it is vital that you solidify your calling. The entire family needs to be on the same page with your committment to being a church planter. If one person is unsure, that becomes the weak link that you struggle with for the entire church plant.
Have a clear vision
There needs to be a clear view of what you want the church to be like. What are the most important values that you have? How will those values be worked out in the ministry that you do? Allow your values to impact your outreach, caring, and leadership.
Money follows vision
I heard this great and empowering statement from Steve Nicholson: “Money follows vision”. People respond to a clear and definitive vision. When others detect a compelling vision in you and in your team, they respond with open hearts and open hands. I believe God is just like that. If you are planting without a vision and just setting up an “organization” just for the sake of it, people are not impressed, and God certainly is not. Therefore I affirm that “money follows vision.”
Learn to embrace loneliness
Even with a strong church planting team with you, the life of a planter is a lonely task. You have a team, share the vision, and develop leaders, but ultimately, you are responsible for the entire process. The risk is high, and that certainly leads to a sense of lonliness that others will not understand. Nevertheless, learn to embrace loneliness in your journey.
Don’t fear the uncertain future; God is already there.
I like to work from the perspective that God has already seen the beginning to the end. The future is clearly in God’s view. Although our view is limited, we can lean heavily on him knowing that he sees much further ahead. So relax. God has already seen the future, and He is with you.
Be a team player
Always develop a church planting team. The best option is to have a team go with you from the church you are being sent out of. But if for some reason that is not possible, develop a new team whever you are. Share your vision with every person you meet. Share it clearly and with a passion. Repeat your vision so often that you are mumbling it in your sleep. As you repeat your vision, God will draw the hearts of some who will come alongside you and share your vision.
Spend your time for the broken and needy
Jesus came for those whose world is simply broken or shattered. Spend your time and efforts for such people. The broken are not only the poor. In every social and economic strata of socitey, brokenness is rampant. When you step into the lives of people, you begin to see how intense and how broad that brokenness is.
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