“I have come to understand church as this: the presence of Jesus among His people called out as a spiritual family to pursue His mission on this planet.” Neil Cole
On Monday, I wrote a little post that I had not planned to write on Monday. But I was up all Sunday night and the words just ordered themselves so perfectly in my mind that I knew I was supposed to write them.
So I did.
If you know me at all, I don’t usually write posts like that. I write stories and let them stand on their own. And I almost never write about church planting.
Church planting is hard for me and it’s hard for the Man and we do better when I leave well enough alone.
But I told you on Monday that if I had not run you off by giving you 10 Things Not To Say To This Church Planter, then you could meet me back here for 10 Things Every Church Planter Wants You to Say.
And I aim to keep my word, mainly because I’m a good girl at heart and partly because I’m a recovering people pleaser.
But mostly because I think the Church is good, right down to its core, we just don’t know what we don’t know.
And I want us to know this.
So, shall we begin? Again?
10 Things Every Church Planter Wants You To Say
1.) I am for you.
We recently received something in the mail that simply read: We are for you. I wept. I wept because it came at a time when we needed those four words more than we needed the check that came with it. Planting a church is lonely business. And it’s even lonelier when you plant without a team. Everyone longs to be seen and to be known and these four words scream I see you and I know you and you have not been forgotten. They also whisper I love you. So say them.
2.) How can I pray for you?
Planting a church comes with a never ending list of needs. Ask what those needs are, put a hand on your planter’s shoulder, look him or her in the eye, and commit to fall on your face before Jesus. Every single day.
3.) Could we have coffee? I’d love to know you and hear your heart for our city.
New plants are often met with suspicion and critique from other local churches, most times rightly so. The Church is good and we buck up against anything and anyone who swoops in to begin a new work. We aim to protect. We are the Bride of Christ, for heaven’s sake. But the best thing you can do to vet a new church planter is to have coffee together. Pick their brain for a couple of hours, look them in the eye, reach across the table and make physical contact. When your planter has a name and a family and a story and a true brokenness for your city, you, the Bride of Christ, cannot help but extend love, grace, and kindness to your planter. And you cannot help but leap for the sheer JOY that God has chosen to begin a new work in the place you call home.
4.) I have some teenagers (or old people or mamas or daddies or responsible 6th graders) who love children and my church wants to loan them to you, every week for the next year. For free.
This needs no explanation.
5.) How can I partner with you?
New plants have many needs. Urban church plants in impoverished areas may have more. When a church or an individual uses the word partner, it communicates that both parties belong to the same God and are running after the same prize: Jesus Christ and His kingdom come. We, the Bride of Christ, run the same race and by partnering together to meet one another’s needs, we communicate to a lost world that we love them more than our attendance role. And we shout to our world that only Jesus matters. He is our prize.
Share resources, people, buildings, whatever you may have. But always share the same prize: Jesus.
6.) Planting a church must be hard on your family. I’d love to have you guys over for dinner.
Most church planters and their families are planting a church in order to reach the lost. They spend countless hours cultivating relationships with their neighbors and local schools and have little time left over to cultivate relationships with other Christians when those relationships are built within the context of another church and that church’s programs. While most church planters long to experience a full scale worship experience and delve deep into the family of a local body of believers, they’ve been called out of a local church and into an area that desperately needs the Gospel. What they need is not another church service. Church planters need the Church, over dinner or around a campfire or on a float in the pool. Not at a 10:00 service on Sunday morning. We need the Church. Not a church.
7.) I can play the guitar (or piano or banjo or harmonica) and I’d love to serve your plant by leading worship for you, every week for the next 6 months (or 6 years). For free.
Again, no explanation is needed.
8.) I am so glad you said YES to God’s call to join us in reaching our city with the Gospel.
Church planters long for a warm welcome from local churches. They long to be seen as pastor’s of legitimate churches, not just someone after their own fame or as competition to the established churches. Love a church planter by extending the long arm of hospitality and welcoming them into your city. Rejoice in the fact that God is moving and that He has sent a co-laborer into the harvest.
9.) I may not understand your approach to reaching _______ people, but I believe in God’s call on your life and I will trust you to follow His leading.
Church planters aren’t perfect. I know. Shocking, huh? We try things and try other things and then switch up our game plan at the last minute and we make people crazy. That’s who we are. We’re weird risk-takers who spin a bunch of plates and run hard and long and fast towards Jesus, and we often leave our people in the dust. We make mistakes and fall down and hide out under the covers when our plans slap us in the face. And then we get up and do it all over again, always chasing Jesus and making much of Him and doing whatever necessary to make others fall in love with Him. And we love it. So love us for it.
10.) Do you accept cash donations?
YES!!! We also accept checks and rolls of quarters and if you have a credit card, we’ll make that work, too. Used car or boat? Absolutely. Jesus loves a cheerful giver and He crazy loves cheerful givers who love weird plate spinning church planters. So give. We need your gifts to love our people well.
My hope, as we move from 2 days worth of to do’s and not to do’s, is this:
That we would desire to make so much of Jesus that all the things we hold dear about our own church homes would begin to lose a little of their luster when held up to the radiance of Christ.
I thank you for hanging in here for 3000 words of church planting. You’ve blessed me with your presence, your kind words, and your prayers.
Much Love~ I love running with you!
And for those of you wondering, the Man read Monday’s post before dinner and he smiled when he read it. You can smile, too. We’re still good.