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.