Sunday, October 2

Church planting lessons

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 example, it is a lot easier to gather people first and evangelize/disciple them, than trying to win individuals and attempt to gather 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 also an important detail.

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 go a long way, but nothing takes the place of an inner drive and love for the Kingdom.

4) "Just do it." Nike's slogan means 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 conditions to be just right, or for more training. The best way to learn is to get out there and "just do it." Yes, mistakes will be made, but seldom are these mistakes fatal to the overall work. 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 types fizzle along the way.

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?


Dion said...

I think this list sounds "spot on" we are trying to get our group to plant more churches. To not much avail. I need to get back to praying more for harvesters and that God would turn the people in our church into harvesters. I also need to see myself and them as apostolic church planters because that is what we are called to be. Peace to you brother! I'm actually traveling to Ecuador over the New Year and will be in touch to see if we can get together.

Strider said...

We have several lessons- or slogans- that we use on our team.
Not original with me is: Every Church must have a leader and his name had better be Jesus!

The purpose of the Church is to grow disciples of Jesus.

The answer to every discipleship question is, 'What does the Bible say?'

I love your 'materials' point. I have often said that materials are a crutch for the teacher, not an aid to the disciple. (But I am not as nice and diplomatic as you are, Guy!)

The measure of success for discipleship and CP is obedience. Don't tell me how many are attending meetings, tell me how many are obeying the Word!

There is more but that is enough for now. Thanks for making me think through these things again!

billy v said...

This was a big encouragement to me as I have transitioned a campus ministry to a church plant.

J. Guy Muse said...


We would love to see you in Ecuador! Let us know dates/times you will around and we will plan on getting together.

J. Guy Muse said...


I love the lessons you share above. Good stuff. One of these days it would be great to get a bunch of CP around the same table with some good coffee, and just listen and learn from one another.

J. Guy Muse said...


Glad the post was a help. Please feel free to share anything you have learned from the transition you are going through.

Rose Salazar said...

I relate most to your first point and with this quote, "nothing takes the place of an inner drive and love for the Kingdom".
Keep it simple, be real--God only uses real people--and I would add that learning to look to Him moment by moment is essential.

J. Guy Muse said...


Thanks for stopping by and for the comment. You are right on in that we can do absolutely nothing without Him. Sometimes we think we can, but it doesn't take long before we realize that unless the Lord does the work, all is in vain.

Anonymous said...

ok so real quick. i need yalls help..i just read this article about church planting and i wanted to know from some godly people if it holds any weight of can be honest lol

Trials and Church Planting


Art said...

thanks for sharing your insights. very helpful.

Tsietsi said...

Thank you for sharing, i think points 1, 3 and 4 resonate most with me. I want to do house to house work, but i have kind of been waiting to get some material from a friend of mine, but i see that God can bless that little which we have.