During the past two decades, there has been a growth in a surge of church planters.
As I have coached and walked with church planters, I have realized that God is the One calling all types of servants to all types of people in order to see the Gospel planted and a church birthed.
The truth in the mind of planters is that seeing the unseen requires faith and obedience. An obedience and a love for the Lord and the people God has called a planter to are vital.
Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2:8 (CSB) notes, “We cared so much for you that we were pleased to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.”
A love and care for people must be motivated from a walk with the Lord and a love that he gives his followers.
But the Gospel is the debt the planter and every believer owes the world. Receiving an inheritance that will not fade away should move each planter to share this hope. Church, denomination, religion, leaders and pastors do not give hope. There is only hope in Christ.
The imperative in the focus of the church planter is planting the Gospel in the community God is calling him to reach and in which to plant a church for God’s glory.
The question is this: How will they hear and understand so they can place their faith in Jesus (Rom. 10:9-14)?
If a planter jumps over this imperative, he may see a congregation started from transfers or just attenders, but the community of focus will not be impacted.
Church planting in its core is about planting, growing and reproducing the Gospel in the lives of new believers. The challenges are many, but the eternal benefits are awesome.
When focusing on planting the Gospel, four foundations are vital:
- The Gospel is the power of God to save (Rom. 1:16-17), and because of the Gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit we are in the transformation business. We are about seeing people not just bettered on the outside but radically transformed on the inside that impacts the whole person. One change person can then be God’s ambassador to their family, neighborhood, business and the ends of the earth. The hope of the planter is that Gospel sharing will lead to community transformation not the inverse. The Gospel must be primary not secondary to see true transformation take place. Good intentions, great events, sweet community and fun caring relationships do not change lives on their own. The Gospel must be central.
- What is the Gospel of Jesus? This may be overlooked by many as we all assume every believer can share the Gospel, but it is surprising that over the past 30 years of serving in missions I have heard many workers and planters struggle to clearly share the Gospel. In Ephesians 2:1-10, Paul shares that he was lost and dead in his sins and in the world. God, in His infinite love reached down and provided in grace a way in Jesus to be forgiven and experience new life. By faith in the death, resurrection and power of God in Jesus, turning from sin, one can come into a relationship with the Father. In verse 10, salvation is what produces good works. The world today needs evidence anew in their skeptical state of the power of God. Salvation is a great miracle.
- How is the Gospel then planted in a community? John notes in his gospel in 1:14 (CSB): “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” The incarnation of the Son of God is a visible expression of the love and redemption plan of the Father for mankind. People saw and heard the Messiah and responded to Him. The church planter must seek the Lord and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring together a team of Christ followers that would carry the good news to all the peoples in the community. In Colossians 1:6, Paul remarks that all over the world the Gospel is bearing fruit. The necessity of sharing the Gospel with people in relationships, on the street, in workplaces, in homes and everywhere is real. There is no harvest if the Gospel is not effectively planted. There are no disciples if the Gospel is not planted, and there is no new church then as well. For the church planter today, the question might be: How much of your time and energy is invested in Gospel sharing? How much of your team’s is invested as well?
- How is the Gospel then harvested? Recently, a church planter was teaching a member class and after sharing the Gospel asked each person if they had a personal relationship with Jesus after placing their faith in Christ. One lady shared that no one had ever asked her that question. She has been in church and served in ministries for years, but she did not know Christ. She then went on to receive the Gospel. The church planter and laborer must anticipate by faith that men and women will be moved to respond to the Gospel. Some will turn away, but others are waiting.
May the Gospel that is shared in the power of the Spirit drive and renew Christ’s church today!