Since revealing the news that I’m going to be planting a church, I’ve been asked several times, “How does that even work?” “Do you even have a building yet?” “Who will come?” If I'm honest, part of me wants to give them all the answers as if I know exactly how it’s going to work. I mean, I’ve read Ed Stetzer, Thom Rainer and Mark Dever after all. What could possibly go wrong?
But in reality I have a lot of questions myself. And, unless someone’s done it a half a dozen times, how could they not have significant questions about the process, curiosities about the logistics of it all, and even some doubts along the way? But I believe what is most important at this point is not what I don’t know, but that what I do know is founded in good and Scriptural principle. All those details that I have yet to figure out, I can trust will be revealed to me as I humble myself and submit to the leading of the Spirit and the counsel of godly mentors.
In the meantime, though, let me share with you three things that I do know at this point in my journey.
It's going to be hard work.
To be a pastor, there must be people to pastor. Who will that be and where will I find them?
The hard work before me is a glorious work because it involves the potential for souls to be saved by the preaching of the gospel. There is the potential for us to see people who were once living for the world, be graciously brought into the fold of God and, as His ambassadors, go out with the invitation to come and follow Jesus.
And that’s where part of the hard work lies - in new conversions. I have no intention of going into the city and finding the believers that are already there and winning them to my church. I have no aspirations of steeling sheep from existing Bible teaching and gospel-centered churches that are doing the hard work of the ministry in the same city. I am committed to the work of preaching truth to lost and hurting people, even if that means doors closed in my face and rejection. Even when that means that the warfare from the enemy is upon me and my family.
There is not a region on this earth where the ground is not cold and hard to the gospel. But it is that very gospel that alone has the power to penetrate the soil and take root unto salvation. Where will I find the people who will one day attend this new church? I will seek them in the streets, in coffee shops, in the market place with my family, at the parks, and anywhere where I can find human souls who need Jesus.
I'm going to need help.
Paul went with Barnabas. Barnabas went with Mark. Jesus sent out the twelve, then the seventy. He said in John 4:35 that the fields were "white for harvest," so pray to the Lord of the harvest that he might send laborers. It is no secret that in order for this church to work, it will have to be more than just me. In order for any church to work, there needs to be a united front - a core of people whom God calls and sets on fire with a vision and a mission for that city. For me, this begins with my family.
Though the goal is to eventually appoint Elders, Deacons, and various gifted ministers for the work, that is rarely accomplished on day one. So, for me, my core group begins with the people in my home. My wife and I are committed to sharing God’s work with our three children and displaying for them what it is to serve the Lord in a community. There will be much prayer - around the table, before bed with the kids, in our closets alone, on our knees and faces before the Lord - because we all are going to need an outpouring of the Spirit. We plan to live among the people and, as a family, try to meet the needs that we see in front of us. Our goal is to seek out the marginalized, the poor and the orphaned kids, but that’s not all. The rich, the religious, the seemingly put together families and the well-to-do are hurting, too. Every city is broken because it is filled with broken sinners who need Christ. We hope that, in our weakness and as cracked vessels of earthen clay, Christ will shine through us for His glory.
As a pastor and soon to be church planter, I’m praying for men to come alongside me whom I can lead in the vision God is showing me. Men who will lift up my arms and whose arms I can help lift. In His grace and timing, I believe He will supply. But until then, we will not despise the days of small things.
The goal is disciple-making.
God is going to develop both the vision and the mission of this church, but it’s going to take time. Heck, I don’t even have a name for it yet. But one thing I do know for sure is what Jesus told us before ascending to the Father.
Matthew 28:18-20: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
This is the most comforting news I can find. I’m going into a mission field, a new territory both geographically and in terms of ministry. But I go, not with a sense of overwhelming fear, but with an overwhelming awareness of His call. I bear the great burden which Christ has given to His disciples, and then promised to fulfill in His own sovereign authority and power. I have a promise, as one of His disciples, that if my goal is to make disciples of all nations, then He will help me do that. This means I’m on mission, and my family is on mission, to meet people and invest our time, our money and our very hearts into the people of that city. From new birth by the Spirit, to baptism into the community of the church, to a total commitment to follow after Christ, may God be glorified.
There’s so much that I do not know. There is much to learn and glean from the wisdom of godly men which I will willingly place myself under. But those things which I do know now, I will commit to with all the heart and passion which I can muster and which the Spirit so graciously supplies.
Editor's Note: This post originally appeared at Joel's Blog, Made to Make Disciples.