Wednesday, November 17

The best way to start a church? Start a church.

Back in the mid-70's, while getting a music degree from the University of North Texas, I was active in our local church choir at Grace Temple Baptist Church. Terry Fansler was an extraordinary church musician. But what I remember most from Terry was his often repeated refrain, "the best way to have a great choir is to have a great choir." Words I have never forgotten.

These can be applied to just about any worthwhile endeavor, including church planting.

The best way to share the Gospel? Share the Gospel.
The best way to make disciples? Make disciples.
The best way to start a church? Start a church.

Our failure to obey the commands of Christ (and here I am speaking more personally of myself and our team's ministry) is rooted in our thinking if we can just somehow get people together in a room and tell them how to do something, they will do it.

SO WRONG!

Personally, I think we have some of the best contextualized church planting materials and methodology being used in Latin America. But the "best" means nothing unless implemented. What is missing?

Intentionality.

Desire may be there, but if there is no real intention of going out and planting a church, a church will not be planted.

I may desire to lose 20 lbs. Believe I need to lose 20 lbs. Feel convicted about losing 20 lbs. Pray about losing 20 lbs. But I will never lose 20 lbs. until I actually start by losing those first few pounds on my way to losing 20 lbs.! You have to do it, to do it.

Well meaning believers flock to our trainings throughout the year. But the truth of the matter is that very few really intend to actually plant a church. It doesn't matter how good the trainers are, how wonderful the materials are, or how much one might affirm or believe what is being taught. IF THEY DO NOT PERSONALLY INTEND ON BEING AN INSTRUMENT IN THE LORD'S HANDS TO PLANT A CHURCH, THEY WILL NOT PLANT A CHURCH.

So, where do we go from here?

In our case, we will train anyone for ONE MONTH. Just long enough to expose them to the concepts of Jesus' Luke 10 methodology, start them praying for their lost friends/family, help them identify men of peace, begin to love/serve/minister those they are seeking to reach, teach basic evangelism/discipleship tools, etc.

But after one month, it is DECISION MAKING TIME. Do it now, or don't come back. The only way to plant a church is to get out there and intentionally plant a church. Those who do start at least what we initially call an outreach group), we will continue to train/mentor/coach. Those who don't? Well, Dios te bendiga...it has been fun...see ya around...thanks for your time...chao (good-bye!)

Does this sound too harsh? Un-Christlike? Too much like the business world? How did Jesus respond to the undecided, wavering, excuse-making disciples in Luke 9:57-62?

As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, "I will follow You wherever You go." And Jesus said to him, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." [that guy never appears again in the pages of the NT] And He said to another, "Follow Me." But he said, "Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father." But He said to him, "Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God." [Jesus leaves this guy standing by the road and moves on] Another also said, "I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home." But Jesus said to him, "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." [Not fit? Sounds pretty harsh and to-the-point to me. I don't think Jesus was able to use this guy either!]

What do you think about these things? What has been your experience in training church planters? If you have personally experienced a better way to start churches (not something you might have read in a book, but something you have actually done and it works), THEN PLEASE SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH US. We would love to hear your thoughts.

10 comments:

Darrell said...

I think that is a very wise approach. It is not new. John Wesley essentially did the same thing.

My experience has been that I can't find people who are even interested in training. They prefer to go and get involved in a program at church.

GuyMuse said...

Darrell,

I hear you friend. Maybe you should pray about going some place where the people are hungry for the Gospel and eager to learn anything that will help them. :)

Kevin, Somewhere in Southern America said...

Guy,

This needs to be shared on a universal level. It's good! I found it to be right on target.

Thanks for a good post.

GuyMuse said...

Kevin,

Thanks for the kind words. I am sure you have experienced the same kinds of things yourself over the years you have been in ministry. Right now we are in Asia trying to get a grasp on what is happening here, but over and over I come to the conclusion that a lot of things boil down to just 'doing it'. We might not succeed at 9 of 10 things we try, but I would rather try something and it not work, than never attempt anything.

Oracio said...

Brother Guy, I just stumbled upon your blog and have found it to be very informative and encouraging. I came across it by googling "planting house churches". I live in Long Beach CA and believe the Lord is leading me to plant churches here. Please pray for me and I will pray for you. Thanks again and God bless you.
Oracio Sandoval
www.frontlinego.com

andrew said...

I've read ALL the books, blog posts and internet articles but have only recently started putting this stuff into practice. My head is jam packed full of great information and other people's inspirational stories. You are so right Guy, we need to just do it! Maybe I will come back in twelve months and share some of my own EXPERIENCE rather than just some good ideas based on what other people have done. Thanks again for sharing your own journey as a practitioner.

GuyMuse said...

Oracio,

Have you ever met Neil Cole there in Long Beach? He would be a great resource to you with the church planting. Thanks for the kind words about the blog. Let us know how things go with the new church plants. Remember, the best way to start a church is to start a church!

GuyMuse said...

Andrew,

When were you in Ecuador? I am trying to place you. Were you down with SIM in S. Ecuador? Next time you are here, we'd love to meet you and visit some with you. Thanks for the kind words.

Jeremy Myers said...

I like it.

For those who you send out this way, how long on average do you think it takes before they move beyond developing an outreach group?

Also, what if someone is brand new to the area and doesn't have any family nearby, and so far doesn't have any friends either?

Darrell said...

Guy I have prayed so often that God would send us somewhere. I feel like He has been preparing us to go. Thus far I have heard nothing except stay and shine from the King. I sincerely pray that soon the King will send us somewhere where the soil is ready to receive the seed and multiply. Thanks for the encouragement.