Over the last few years, I have become increasingly convinced that planting churches is one of the most significant ways the church can do what it is called to do: make disciples.
Church planting is tough work and one key to thriving is focusing on what God is doing and not on what we wish he was doing. An easy way to help us with this is to hear stories about how God is working in new churches.
My wife and I have helped with some church plants, planted a church, and visited multiple church plants over the years. In that time I have seen so many reasons why we plant churches. I felt the Lord call me to start sharing some of what I have seen. So, here it goes!
One key to thriving is focusing on what God is doing and not on what we wish he was doing.
In one of our meetings in our church plant, I felt God leading me and our community in a time of open confession. I started it off, praying out loud and confessing some of my sinful attitudes and behaviors. Next, my wife confessed her sins. Then one by one we went around the room. The Holy Spirit was tangible in the room and then a beautiful moment happened.
A visitor who came to check us out that night was last in the rotation to confess. Everything got quiet for a few minutes, we waited patiently to give her space and then she began to pray. She said, “God, you know I was abused all my childhood and I have blamed you and hated you for it. Please, can you forgive me and accept my pitiful life? I want to follow you.”
Right then and there, she surrendered her life to Christ. At the end of the meeting, she was even asking for a Bible. That is why we plant churches!
I know of a man that grew up in the Bible Belt, yet never heard the good news of Jesus. This man walked the streets for more than 10 years chasing hard drugs with church buildings all around him. Not once did anyone stop to tell him about the Gospel and that there was a way out. Fortunately, he was radically saved while doing time in prison. We plant churches to intentionally create communities that reach out to those who need hope.
Do you remember the first time you went to a church service? Do you remember the feeling of connecting and the sweet experience of the Holy Spirit? Do you remember the encouragement and the sense of family?
Churches create a place where we can belong before we believe.
Churches are communities that embrace our fears, our questions, and our struggles with faith. They are a group of people who love and accept us even in the ugliest moments of our lives. They create a place where we can belong before we believe.
We live in a world where people are so alone and isolated from meaningful connection. We plant churches to provide a safe place for people to develop healthy relationships.
I’ve witnessed a man being baptized with an ankle bracelet on, not a cute one made of rope or leather but one issued by the State of Texas Department of Corrections. When he came out of the water, the celebration that erupted from his family was life-changing. Many of them had been praying for decades that he would come to know Jesus. When I talked to them, they said he had never felt comfortable in church and at this particular Vineyard church he finally felt like he was finally at home. We plant churches for those that don’t know Jesus and to make room for those that have no place.
Jesus told us exactly why we plant churches. One of his last statements to his followers says
“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.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
In the book of Acts, the Bible shows church planting as a primary way the Apostles understood how to carry out this command. Throughout the history of the church, church planting has been the most effective way to reach people for the cause of Christ. We start communities of faith to live out the Great Commission.
If you are discerning your call for church planting and reading stories like these makes your heart leap and fills you with energy, it is a good sign you are made for church planting. I hope these stories inspire you today!
Are You Called To Be A Church Planter?
Reflect on these 10 questions to help discern your calling.
Joshua Pickett and his wife Laurie have been on a journey of discovery, joy, and pain as they have leaned into following Jesus. They are regular folks who have been captured by God’s heart. Their goal in life is to learn how to love God with all they are and then to give that away to anyone who will receive it. Joshua is on staff at the Vineyard Church in Duluth, MN. He is currently finishing up his BA in biblical studies and hopes to go on to graduate school and work on a MAT. He loves hanging out with his wife, CrossFit, and you can usually find him on his day off cooking up a big pot of some seriously good food.