Essentials of a Church Planter
By Bener Agtarap
Church Planting is a Team Sport
It takes a group of people, working together towards a common goal, to start and sustain a new faith community. The success of a church planting effort never relies on one person. A church planter is simply one of the players in a church planting team. For any church planting endeavor to become successful, it depends on the unity and cohesiveness of the whole team.
For instance, Jesus felt the need to form his own team to carry out God’s mission on earth. As we all know, he has enough faith, power, and authority to make things happen without the necessity of needing any help from anybody. He could easily do everything by himself, and by doing so, he could have avoided unnecessary headaches caused by dealing with difficult colleagues in ministry as we have noticed in several occasions from his early disciples. Jesus resisted the temptation of being a lone ranger, and a superhero mentality that one can do everything by himself or herself. He made a choice to choose a few among his early followers to join in his team, which is no doubt a smart move on his part.
Jesus sets a good example of being a part of a team. He regarded his team as his own faith community – a spiritual family. He invested his life in a handful of ordinary people. He lived and dwelt among them as a friend and regarded them as his own family (see John 15:15). These people considered Jesus as their Lord and Master, but Jesus held them as his friends and colleagues. He trusted them more than anybody else. He built lasting relationships with his team. As someone said, “only a leader who finds time necessary to enjoy life, love and lasting relationships in a healthy manner will last.”
Jesus’ way of leadership focuses on relationships, rather than on gifts and positions. As church planters, our task is not to think less of others. Rather, our joy in service is to put as many people above ourselves with whom we can work together to make a difference in the world. Jesus showed us the way. Now, it’s our turn to lead the way.
Living and Leading like Jesus
The following principles are suggestions for living and leading like Jesus. We see these principles being lived out by many fruitful church planters. Obviously, these principles are not new or unfamiliar to many of us. But it’s good to keep them in mind and to begin to practice these basic principles in your leadership along with your church planting team.
Passion for the Gospel
“Set apart for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Romans 1:1
As a church planter, your allegiance is to Christ, and your total devotion is to the service of God. Your life’s message is your dedication to the proclamation of the Gospel.
Like a Child
“unless you can change and become like little children.” Matthew 18:3
As a church planter, we depend not on ourselves, but solely on God’s faithfulness. To experience God’s faithfulness is to be like little children “lowly in heart, knowing yourselves utterly ignorant and helpless, and hanging wholly on your Father who is in heaven, for a supply of all your wants” (John Wesley).
Ask the Right Questions
“ask and it will be given to you.” Matthew 7:7
As a church planter, we often encounter hindrances and setbacks, including dealing with difficult people and persecution. In times of difficulty and confusion, we struggle to find answers and solutions to set us free from our predicament. More often, we could find the answers by asking the right questions. Remember, the questions we ask often lead us to new discoveries and new knowledge.
Never Give Up Early
“the Lord’s uphold.” Psalm 37:24
As a church planter, your confidence rests on God’s faithfulness. Your strength is from God. You don’t easily give up when you encounter temptations, disappointments, misfortunes, and adversity because you are on the journey in the hands of God. You are highly motivated by the assurance of God’s steadfast love. You believe that you and your team can do all things through Christ who is your strength.
“loving one another, and working together.” Philippians 2:2
As a church planter, you are a member of a team united in love, acting together in promoting the same mission of making new disciples of Jesus Christ. Your common cause of offering Christ to all people is what unites your team and what makes every team member play their role and responsibility for the good of the whole.
“sent for this purpose.” Luke 4:43
As a church planter, you are set apart to join Jesus in being sent to proclaim the “evangel” of God’s kingdom. Evangelism needs to be woven into the fabric of a new faith community and its planting team. Make sure every member of your team is on game. Remember, you make disciples who make disciples.
Recruit, Equip, and Mobilize God’s People
“Come, follow Me.” Matthew 4:19
As a church planter, you are called to call people to follow Jesus. Seeing new people growing and maturing in faith and making a difference in the public square is pure joy. Invite people to follow Jesus and equip them to be “fishers of men and women.”
Take a moment to focus on this Scripture passage:
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV
So, let me ask you a question.
Are you a church planter willing to follow the Jesus’ way?
Your decision is crucial.
Remember, we participate in church planting movement because of our gratitude to God for making us a part of God’s family. Our love and gratitude to God’s amazing grace is so strong we can’t help but to immerse ourselves in loving others with the love of God.