A few things picked up over the years working alongside the saints in planting house churches...
1) Work with what you have on hand. In Jesus miracle of the five loaves and two fish, he asked the disciples what they had on hand. Of course five loaves and two fish were not nearly enough to feed 5000, but when turned over to Jesus, He blessed those few loaves and fish so that they fed thousands. The same hold true in church planting. Start with what you have and turn it over to the Lord and watch him multiply the "little" into "much."
2) The importance of a few key details. The difference between success and failure in church planting often hinges on attention to a few key details. For us, it is vitally important that within 48 hours of someone making a decision to follow Christ that we begin the discipleship process with them. Another is baptizing new converts as soon as possible. Ongoing relationship and mutual nurturing of leaders within an accountability group of fellow believers is another biggie.
3) Materials are not the key. The most frequent question people inquire about is what materials we use. "Show us your materials." This is the least relevant thing and yet is what everyone thinks is the key to a successful church plant. Just get the right materials and voila you get a church planted. Not so. What is important is the person's perseverance through the ups and downs of planting a church. Knowing how to effectively use a few simple tools (materials) can carry them a long way and is an important part of training, but nothing takes the place of an inner drive and love for the Kingdom.
4) "Just do it." Nike's slogan is ours too. Don't wait to have all the answers before beginning. It is better to just get out there and start something, than to stand back waiting for further clarification, more training, and for conditions to be just right. The best way to learn is to get out there and "just do it." Yes, mistakes will be made, but seldom are mistakes fatal to the overall work if the heart is right. The grass is NOT greener on the other side of the road. It is no harder to plant a church where God has placed you, than it is for someone else in another "easier" location.
5) Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers. Once you settle that He is the one who does the calling, then it becomes important to accept those he sends, regardless of the initial unpromising impression these folks might make upon you. Over and over it has been the "least promising" individuals who have panned out, while the really sharp, cool, educated dudes fizzle along the way. In our network of house church leaders there isn't a single leader who stands out as a model church planter. ALL are quite common folks--like you and me!
6) Dealing with the "authority" issue of who can plant a church. Many are looking for authorization or blessing from their pastor, denomination, an ordination council, or respected leaders to give them the "green light." If there is any doubt in the mind of the novice church planter that he/she has the authority to plant a church, they will not do so. If, however, they understand their authority comes directly from Jesus, they will be mightily used of the Lord. Every church planter needs to settle in their hearts and minds that Jesus is the source of their authority issues. "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth [therefore] go...make disciples...baptizing...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you..." One of my roles as a missionary is empowering people to do those things that Christ has already empowered them to do!
7) Have a clear idea of what it is that needs to be done. Many of our folks see themselves as simply "evangelists" and are out trying to win a few to Christ. Once they get it into their heads that they are apostolic church planters, fully invested with the authority to do ALL that such an undertaking entails--baptizing, serving Lord's Supper, counseling, teaching, praying for the sick, planting a church, etc.--they are transformed into amazing vessels for the Master's use.
8) Simplicity. This one cannot be emphasized enough. Neil Cole simply says, "Simple is transferable, complex breaks down." He goes on to say, "Simplicity is the key to the fulfillment of the Great Commission in this generation. If the process is complex, it will break down early in the trasference to the next generation of disciples. The more complex the process, the greater the giftedness needed to keep it going. The simpler the process, the more available it is to the broader Christian populace." Almost every mistake we have made in the church planting process can be boiled down to our making things more complicated than people can actually handle. I have the tendency to think "more" is better, but "less" is always more in the long run. This certainly applies to church. The more simple church is made to be, the more likely it will take root and grow. The more complex we make it, the more likely it will fail.
What do you think of the above? Anything resonate with your own experience? What are your own observations?