The passion and love for church planting has been down deep within my heart for many years. I get excited just thinking about being used by God to build the kingdom through planting new churches. My heart bares witness with the heart of Robert Wagner when he says, “There is no better evangelistic endeavor under the sun than church planting.”
While looking for sermons/lectures on church planting, I stumbled upon the Exponential Series, a series of hundreds of hours of wisdom from some of church plantings greatest. What follows are notes from some of the sessions, so that I can glean the most from these valuable resources.
This session: “Beyond the Call, Building a Launch Plans,” By Hal Mayer and Ron Sylvia, Pastor of The Springs, Ocalla Florida.
Church planting is the “extreme sport” of church ministry. It is fun, exciting, adventurous, and it is full of ups and downs.
Expect a lot of confirmation from the Lord before diving into this extreme sport of ministry. The prospective planter will have a “dump truck” of confirmation if called to plant churches. It will be clear (the call, the vision, etc.).
The planter needs MORE than a calling from God – that’s the beginning, not all there is to planting. It is best to have a plan, purpose, values, demographics, core values, etc. It takes more than just a calling to get the plant firing. The calling is just the beginning. It takes a plan, strategy, and leadership, among many other things. The planter should not think he can go into the field armed with just a calling and simply fall into success after success.
Regarding the plan, exercise discernment. Church planting takes discernment, as there are many different, varying, and seemingly contradictory viewpoints on plans, strategies etc. Church planter must be able to discern from God which plan is the right plan within their particular ministry context. There are a thousand different plans out there, and discernment must be used to determine the right one.
Plans take time to develop. There is a long, involved process before the church plant plan ever comes to fruition. Websites such as http://www.nextchurch.com (“Starting New Churches on Purpose” ebook located here) and http://www.newchurches.com (Ed Stetzer) offer examples of plans and other resources for church planters, but his plan must come after a diligent search of the will of God and His instructions for the planter within their particular ministry context.
This lecture is about evaulating the processes to to develop the right plan. If the wrong plan in developed, the chances increase exponentially that failure wll occur.
Church planting is in vogue; everyone wants to start church. Since it is so hip and cool to plant a church (really???), leaders who are not truly called or have not planned accordingly will experience major burnout rapidly. So many have “played the video game of church planting” and think they have everything under control and feel they understand the process fully, yet incorrectly assert that church planting is an effortlessly painless task. They are, then, very surprised once they hit the ground and determine how trying the profession can be.
The importance of the call cannot be over stressed. As a matter of fact if it is at all possible for anyone to “talk the planter out of planting a church,” then it is highly suggested that they do not go forward, because there must be an absolute undisputable sure call or the church will fail as soon as the inevitable tough times approach.
This is very important: “If God has not called the planter to church planting then he will be alone in the venture!!” And if he are alone in such a tough business, he will surely fail. If God is not in the church plant it is impossible to succeed, at least in terms of heavenly success for kingdom success.
A major, major principle of this session is “counting the cost of church planting.” Luke 14:28 – 31 says, “For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, after he has laid the foundation and cannot finish it, all the onlookers will begin to make fun of him, saying, ‘This man started to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ Or what king, going to war against another king, will not first sit down and decide if he is able with 10,000 to oppose the one who comes against him with 20,000?”
Some of the costs are marriage and family costs. It has been said, “Previous generations of pastors sacrifice their families for the church. Current generations of pastors sacrifice the church for their families.” That is, pastors of old put too much time into the church, and many current pastors do not put enough time into the church. There should be no sacrifice, but rather balance. While planting a church will not cause one to sacrifice their family, it will, however, cost the planter a lot in terms of his family time.
Since it will cost so much, the planter must ensure that his spouse has been called and is 1000% on board, or there will be trouble. Planting will draw lots of energy that usually goes into the planter’s marriage. It will also cost the planter’s children a lot, as they will lose some of the energy usually reserved for them. So include them as much as possible, so they can share in the exertion of energy.
Another cost is in the area of finances. The planter must do an assessment to make sure they are good with money, because most planters will not be “rolling in the dough.” Finances will be limited and sacrifices will have to be made. Lifestyle changes will have to occur. This is a faith journey.
Another cost is emotional and spiritual costs. Stress levels will be high. Leadership is emotionally draining, especially when the leader is trying to cast his vision and people are not catching it. There will be some spiritual mountaintops, but there will also, sadly, be some emotional and spiritual valleys. Emotional drains will wear the planter out and they will happen frequently. It is a war!!! The planter and the new church will be trying to depopulate hell, thus its leaders are Satan’s prime targets. If the Enemy can take out the leader he can take out the movement, and stop the losses to his evil kingdom. It is a spiritual war and the planter must be prepared for that battle!!
Clarify the Vision. The planter can have a call all day long, but if he has no clear plan, he will not succeed. The planter should clarify the vision and discover clearly what God has called him to do. Saying “God has called me to plant a church” is never enough. God is much more specific than that!! God is a God of organization and planning, and planning is a way to glorify God and show how serious one takes the call to plant. What type of church will the new plant be? What people group is the plant trying to reach? What resourced does the church have, or will they need, etc.
“Vision and uncertainty are inseparably linked,” says Andy Stanley. This means that one will have to lead where he has never been before, into uncertain and chartered territory, thus planning and clarifying vision are vitally important. Vision helps the planter get where he are going. It helps him grow, form the team, and keeps the church on track after launch. It keeps the church heading in the right direction. The better and clearer ones vision is cast in the more likely one is to reach their goal.
Furthermore, vision casting and clarity are never done. The leader is constantly reevaluating and re-shaping vision to ensure that the church is headed in the right direction. Vision must be crystal clear. Continually cast it and find new ways to phrase it so that it is always fresh with people and always crystal-clear, so that all know where the church is headed.
Important: Vision is not found in consensus. Vision is born in a man or a woman. Remember that God has called the planter to lead the church towards the vision God has given him, not towards others’ vision. Vision is not found in the consensus of the congregation or in a controlling few (or a controlling one). Church planters will experience “vision hijackers” in his church. These people will try to take the church in a direction away from the vision and try to get the planter to adopt a different vision. The problem with this is that this will be a path and vision that the planter does not own and that cannot be defended or supported by him, thus he cannot adequately plan and move people towards a vision that is not his own.
Planters must not let people distract them from the vision God has given them. As Rick Warren has said, “Love everyone, but move with the movers.” In other words, move with the people who own the vision and who buy in, those whom God has sent around the planter to help support them and help them move forward with the vision that God has given him, those who get excited about the visiting God has given them. Don’t move with people who are not moving in the direction of the vision God has placed within the planter’s heart. Love eveyone, even if you can’t move with him. Dont fail to love those who are moving in a different direction. However, don’t let those people influence the movenemt towards the vision.
Wrap Up (Miscellaneous)
God will provide, and God will surprise you at every turn. Paint a clear and beautiful portrait of the vision so that people will want to partner with the planter to be used by God to fulfill the vision.
Try to plant within 6 months of entering a community. Launching is about connecting, and the connections should happen as fast as possible. When launch date is set, keep it. Do not get distracted by the Enemy and let him convince you to postpone the work of God.
Launch with as much money as possible, but do not let a large bank account dimminish passion. It is better to start with limited resources, as this keeps the team focused and faith-filled.
As a potential planter, one is in a wonderful position, as they are about to have the best time of their life. This will be hard, but the planter’s fact will become faith as he see God work in incredible ways throughout the planting process!
Let’s get to planting everyone!
More notes to come as time permits….