Paul had a first time, Timothy had a first time, and all of the contributors to this website had a first time too. It’s important to go in with your eyes wide open to how hard the task is, but also to how big your God is! Here are some words of advice to the first time church planter:
First steps are always hard, but they lead to wonderful discoveries!
One southern European couple trying to decide if they wanted to join a church planting team for the first time spent two sleepless nights in prayer before accepting the invitation. The first words out of their mouths were, “We never thought we could be part of something so important!” Church planting is exhausting, but what could be more thrilling than being a part of offering the life-transforming Gospel to a neighborhood or town or group of people who would otherwise not hear it or see it in action? Go ahead and be excited!!!
Be prepared for spiritual warfare
First-time church planters are often surprised by how difficult life can suddenly seem. If it feels like your car starts to break down more often, your kids catch every illness around, you argue with your spouse more, some surprising bills turn up, and so on, you might find that the devil has discovered that you’ve placed yourself on the front lines of the spiritual battle. That’s not a reason not to plant churches; it’s just important to be prepared for such battles and to have a strong prayer team behind you!
Don’t take yourself or your role too seriously
While church planting is central to God’s program, it might be a relief to realize that you yourself are not all that central. Yes, you are on the front lines. He loves you unconditionally for who you are and is always pleased when workers like you enter His harvest fields. However, the work belongs to Him. It is not your responsibility to start a church any more than it is your responsibility to “convert” someone. Churches are born and die every day. Don’t give yourself too much credit for the good days or even for the planting of a church, and don’t give yourself too much blame for the bad days or even for the failure of a church plant. God’s shoulders are broader than yours.
Look for role models
Obviously, the best thing would be to find some fruitful church planters in your area and learn from them. That’s not always possible, so what other models might you find? You could learn from some of the stories on this website, from books or seminars, from more distant church plants, from gifted evangelists and disciple-makers, and so on. You might also find interesting models in the secular world. Ask yourself questions like, “Where do people congregate in groups, and what do their meetings look like?”, “How do influential people motivate for change in this town?”, or “What makes a good and respected leader in this area?”
If there is one thing this site can teach you, it’s that it’s okay to ask questions. In our own church plants, we’ve gained insights and become more fruitful by asking a myriad of questions. We’ve asked questions of…
- Missionaries and full-time workers
- Experienced church planters
- Church leaders
- New converts
- And even unbelievers
Our questions have ranged from the insightful to the mundane. We’ve asked,
- “Where do people gather to…?”
- “What’s a comfortable number of people to…?”
- “Where’s the nearest new apartment building?”
- “How are evangelicals viewed in this area?”
- “How are in-home meetings viewed?”
- “How much do people read?”
- “Are there other Christians in the area?”
- “How have people been converted here in the past?”
- “Have other church planting projects failed? Why?”
Once you’ve asked all of these questions and a couple dozen of your own, you might want to consider some of these:
- Questions for full-time workers, click here.
- Questions for missionaries, click here.
- Questions for church planters in general, click here.
But before you click away…
You might also want to know that we think you’re wonderful! We are thrilled every time we hear of a believer in Jesus Christ who wants to work alongside of Him in building His church (Matthew 16:18). If you ever want to tell your story to someone, feel free to drop us a note!