I’ve been around church planting my entire life. My grandfather was a church planter, my dad is a church planter, my uncle trains church planters, and I’m planting now for the second time. The men in my family are directly responsible for planting literally hundreds of churches worldwide, and I’ve personally watched my father plant numerous churches during my lifetime, all of which are still going strong, and most of which have planted their own churches. Church planting is the only thing I really know how to do. I’ve been bottle-fed church planting since infancy, and it’s become my passion.
Church planters are an interesting breed of men, and pioneer church planters (guys who plant a church with no money, or resources) are plain old disturbed. It’s one thing to take a chunk of money and open a new church in a neighborhood; it’s another thing to “John Wayne” your way into a community and organically begin a new ministry. Although every planter would love to have funds, often times it’s not possible. Regardless, every church planter is faced with individual difficulties that although different in each community, must be answered in every context.
In my opinion, the most widely discussed topic amongst church planters (aside form monetary issues) is church structure. In others words the way in which they have, or plan to “do” church. Some guys are congregational, some elder lead, some decentralized, some house church and the list goes on and on. To make things more difficult, we categorize things even further. Some guys are denominational, some associational, some are in networks, some are autonomous, some call themselves emergent, some deny any classification (still very much a category), and some just stare at the wall. However you look at it, you’re going to fit in someone’s pigeonhole.
After all my years of living with and around church planters the conversation is the same. I wonder if this conversation pleases God? I’m spending a lot of time praying about this matter, because it seems to be so important to so many people. I guess I’m looking for God heart on issue. Does God care how we assemble if our hearts are turned towards him? Does he care if we’re denominationalized, or autonomous? What are the things God really cares about? What does God want to hear being discussed when leaders meet, and is time in discussion as valuable as time in prayer?
I love my peers, and I prayer for each of them by name, regularly. I want to see them succeed in reaching the lost for Christ, encouraging and educating the found, and impacting the culture they minister in. But, I also want to leave the secondary stuff behind and begin to dwell in the unity of our call. All of us have successes and failures. We all have stories of transformation. We have all had our backsides kicked and had to learn to lean on Christ to recover. There is so much wisdom and experience in a room when pastors gather, why do feel the need to discuss ideals?
Maybe I'm missing somehing, but I'm ready for a new discussion.