“You are not called to plant a church. You are called to be faithful.”
Surrounded by four thousand young church planters, the main speaker gets up on stage and makes a passionate plea to the audience: “Go. Plant church planting churches.” And they go. They go out. They meet with STADIA, NewThing, and a myriad of other church planting agencies. They start the process: go through assessment, join a residency program, and twelve months later launch a new church in the area they feel called to.
Six months later, their church closes its doors for good.
There are so many reasons why churches close. From a lack of sustainable finances to complete moral failures; the options abound. That’s not what this post is about. The post is about helping planters work through their calling.
No one wants to see a church fail. And you see, right there is the point. The church can never fail. But every time a planter walks away, they are told that. That needs to stop. Here’s why.
Jesus is the one who plants the church.
“… on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” [ READ ]
Do you believe that Jesus is who He says He is? Do you His words to be true? Then why do you feel such a pressure to succeed? If you believe the words of Jesus are true, then you need to believe that the business of church planting is on Him and not on you.
Let that sink in a bit. Church planting is God’s job, not yours. You are but an extension of that piece of His ministry. You are responding to the “As you are going, make disciples…” [ READ ] calling that Jesus has placed upon every disciple. And good on you for that. You are taking the Gospel into areas where the message of Jesus has yet to take root.
You see the Acts 1:8 mission as your mission and have taken it upon yourself to see that done in your corner of the globe. That’s an honorable thing, but your value is not tied to whether it sinks in or sinks.
The metric of success is faithfulness.
Can we just sit back and embrace this for a while? The metric of success, yours and the church you plant along with Jesus is whether or not you have been faithful. Let’s ask the question: are you being faithful?
Last week a six year old church in Kansas City closed its doors. 250 baptisms laters and over 200 in weekly attendance, they folded. Were they successful or not? The old metric of success is whether or not they are still around after five years. But what about year six, and does that matter?
No one wants to see a church close its doors. Six have closed its doors in San Marcos (San Diego, Ca) in the past two years. There are a lot of reasons why.
More than anything, we want to see the church remain faithful.
The question then becomes, how can a church remain faithful? Whether that church is in pre-launch phase or celebrating year ten, we want to see churches and pastors remain faithful to the Jesus mission, and help bring those far from God back home to Jesus. That’s the bottom line. The hard part is, “how”?
Churches and pastors remain faithful as they remember:
- Jesus is the planter and you are not. Matthew 16:18
- Stay on the Jesus mission and never compromise for anyone. Matthew 28:19-20
- You start a movement in your homes and empower others around the world to do the same. Acts 1:8
Your identity is not defined by who you are or what you do, but rather who you belong to.
We hope and pray your church plant grows into a strong and vibrant sustainable ministry. But even if it doesn’t, we pray you have remained faithful to Jesus every step along the way.