Church planters are a rare breed! Having planted two churches, my advice to the potential church planter would be similar to the advice that Spurgeon gave to his Bible sturdents who were contemplating entering the ministry. If you can avoid doing it, do so! Yet if you cannot void it, because you know without a doubt that you are in God’s will, do it with all your heart, soul and might!
There are many pitfalls in church planting. Many newly established fellowships are paid a visit by spiritual “gypsies” who are looking for either influence of leadership. It is tempting for the leader of a small work to accept such people gladly – after all they “help” the numbers! Experience proves, however, that the eventual spiritual cost of endeavouring to discipline such people is not worth accepting them in the first place.
Then, there is the discouragement of having small numbers. There are holidays in the summer and every form of sickness in the winter. Everyone not present is greatly missed! Some become unhappy at being in a small congregation and so decide to leave and join some larger group elsewhere. Often, this is simply because of the commitment required in a church plant situation. Added to this is the lack of workers. The only mature Christians that the small congregation sees are the church planters themselves.
The logical conclusion to this is that no church planter should work alone in their quest for God. They need to be linked to a larger congregation who can help with manpower, music and money. The leadership of the bigger group may also assist should discipline be required in the church plant. Even then, it is helpful if the church that the planter is connected with has been a church plant itself. Its leadership will know and understand the problems experienced in beginning a new work first hand.
Is your chuch a ‘planting’ church? In the two years that Paul was in Ephesus, it was said of him “that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 1:8. This would have been impossible in both instances without a chuch planting programme.
New chuches are the most effective means of winning people for the Lord. They have no formality or ritual to uphold. This makes it much easier for the Holy Spirit to move so that Jesus can effectively build His church in and through them.