I don’t know a lot of things. I’ll be the first to admit. I’d like to think of myself as a well-read, intellectual person. But let’s be honest. I’m average. The good news is that I’m okay with that (most of the time). As a matter of fact, most people are just that. Average. The quicker we actually admit this, we’ll actually start to see the beautiful things that resemble the image of God in our lives, instead of focusing on what we lack.
So when I offer my thoughts on church planting — or, well, really anything on this blog — keep in mind that I’m your average, everyday nobody. If you can log onto the Internet, you can start a blog. Before you know it, a Google search here and there, and thousands of people are reading.
I want to be in pastoral ministry. I want to preach the gospel. It doesn’t have to be to thousands. It might be to tens or hundreds. God decides that anyway. I just want to avail myself to gospel ministry. Christ-centered, Bible-saturated, God-exalting, others-oriented ministry. My wife wants this too. The role is different for her, and she knows that, but she wants what I want: people to meet Jesus and be transformed.
I’ll be honest: in Evangelical churches today, especially Reformed ones, I think “church planting” is a fad. It’s the hip, cool, post-modern thing to do today. All of a sudden (once Mars Hill and Acts29 took off in the early to mid 2000s), all the 25-35 year old men in America wanted to be the next Mark Driscoll. News flash, Mark Driscoll is Mark Driscoll. I am not. You aren’t either.
The funny thing is that the act of “church planting” has been happening since Jesus left the earth after his resurrection. Here’s the skinny: people treasured Christ enough to tell others about him, and those people got saved and gathered with those preached the gospel to them to “do church.” They not only gathered to “do church,” but they lived to “be the church” in community, that is, they encouraged and exhorted each other. They challenged each other and reminded them of the gospel when temptation and sin arrived. They submitted to those in spiritual authority and taught their children about Jesus. They gave their time, money, energy, and possessions to those in need. They lived by faith and grew in holiness. They suffered when called to do so. When they prospered they counted it as loss. Then these communities grew and spread and other churches popped up.
Paul, James, John, Peter, and the other Apostles played a foundational role in the church spreading. They traveled and preached the gospel. They evangelized non-Christians and discipled and taught believers. They set up local churches and gave instructions for church government. This spreading hasn’t stopped. In fact, it has increased over the centuries thanks to missionaries, like Paul, who left their home countries to tell other peoples about the risen Christ. And it needs to continue. It always needs to continue.
I’m trying to reevaluate why I want to be a “church planter.” Is it because I want to run a super-cool church with an indie-rock feel, and have a sweet website made by the guy sipping Starbucks coffee working a MacBook? Is it because I want to react against the Purpose Driven mega-church model that so many American churches have adopted? Is it because I want to be associated with words like “hip” and “urban” and “missional”? Is it because that’s just what 25 year-old white guys who want to be in ministry?
Or is it because I want to be on a mission to make Jesus famous in a city that desperately needs him?