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.