You can be Mark Driscoll, Rob Bell, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, or Neil Cole, or you can be the person who raises them up. What role do you most want to play? I used to want to be them--to get to see all this stuff happening up close--but that's because all I saw was what I could do.
As I grew older and began to help planters start their churches, I realized I could have greater impact raising up multiple leaders who would plant more churches than I could ever do alone. Not all of us are gifted or called to be Driscolls, Warrens, or Coles, but every single pastor can raise up other young men and women. As a matter of fact, one of the chief roles and responsibilites of every pastor is that of raising up leaders--not just for their church but for the broader church as well.
Which is greater, to plant a single church or to plant multiple churches out of your church?
I once heard that our Chinese brothers express it this way...
It is good for a Christian to lead someone to Christ,
It is better to plant a church,
It is best to lead others to plant churches.
If we are ever going to see genuine church planting movements, we have to get away from wanting to be center stage. Instead of ministry being about us, or what we do; how do we encourage that vast army of ordinary believers to step out in faith into the ripe and ready fields of harvest?
Question: how long does it take to get from 0-1000 member church? Unless extraordinarily gifted like those mentioned above, most of us would dedicate a lifetime to reaching that goal. The largest Baptist Church in Ecuador Iglesia Cristiana Evangélica Bautista Israel took 30 years to reach a thousand members. But in only the past five years has more than doubled in size. How? Not by fancier facilities, slicker services, or better sermons...but by empowering, equipping and encouraging ordinary "lay leaders" to go out and plant more than a dozen community churches. These "daughter churches" each average close to 100 people. I love their motto: "one church; many communities."
A couple of months ago, a dozen men and women signed up for church planting training here in Guayaquil. After Eight weeks, more than 100 new believers (and soon-to-be-believers) meet together weekly in at least seven newly planted house churches.
I wonder, how long would it have taken me to plant a church of 100? Working full time, with several others helping, and access to money and outside resources, probably a couple of years. Yet, by investing a few hours over the past eight weeks with a dozen people, we already see greater results.
I totally agree with Bob Roberts statements above. Most would rather be one of those household names known for having a successful ministry. But how differently things might be in the Kingdom if Ephesians 4 APEPT were about perfecting/equipping the saints for the work, instead of being the primary ones doing the work?
What do you think? Your thoughts and comments are welcomed!