Thursday, July 21, 2005

So You Want to Be a Church Planter?

Excellent word here from Mark Driscoll, who observes "throughout the pastoral epistles Paul also speaks of the lead elder with a number of metaphors that are pregnant with meaning and therefore important for every pastor to regularly meditate upon." (The bold highlighting is mine.)

To plant a church that honors God a man must preach and teach the Bible with all of the strength and fortitude of an ox that can pull a multitude of people in his wake (1 Timothy 5:17-18). Satan routinely sends heretics, nutjobs, and false teachers of all kinds into a church plant because it's systems are yet fluid, it's leadership is yet unsettled, and it's relationships are yet uncultivated. Therefore, you must ensure that sound doctrine regularly proceeds from your lips and pen so that love for Jesus and love for others (Christians and non-Christians alike) are the marks of health in your church plant.

To plant a church that honors God a man must fight like a dependable soldier of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:3-4). Throughout his letters Paul continually admonishes Timothy to fight a good fight. And with the world, the flesh, and the devil conspiring to thwart your work you must do likewise. Soft men who are prone to avoid conflict or crumble under pressure will end up like an acquaintance of mine whose church plant collapsed as he lay on his living room floor crying like a baby while Hymenaeus and Alexander proceeded to take over.

To plant a church that honors God a man must train and compete with the precision of a skilled athlete (2 Timothy 2:5). Lazy men who adore their hobbies rarely plant much of a church because they end up wasting time, wasting energy, and being undisciplined with everything from their Bible to their fork as they tend to read too little and sleep and eat too much.

To plant a church that honors God a man must sweat at his labor like a farmer (2 Timothy 2:6). Many young men are attracted to ministry because, as one pastor said, it's a job indoors that does not require any heavy lifting. But, when done rightly, ministry in general and church planting in particular, is work. Like the farmer who owns his own land no one will wake you up in the morning, set your schedule, or give you a performance review to let you know how you are doing. So, like the hard working farmer you will need to simply get yourself up every morning and work hard gathering people, studying and teaching, raising money, locating facilities, building systems, and the like.

The sad truth is that there are seemingly few men who are qualified to hold the title of pastor/elder, let alone be the founding pastor of a church plant. Jesus said as much and commanded us to pray for God to raise up workers and send them into the harvest and so we do.

(Found at the Acts 29 church-planting site. Because it's a fancy-Flash site, though, I can't link directly to the article.)

Update: Steve McCoy helped me out. Here is a link to the article.