What are the main issues in church planting? What should be the principle goal of a church planter? What should be the priorities, the goals, the places where work, energy, personnel, and prayer are invested by the minister?
I define this issues in the following manner:
Attendance – You don’t have a church to start with if you have no people. But beyond getting people, you have get people to be a part of your church, and not just attend. But the first step is attendance. I see this as more “participating” than physically being in the building. You can have promotion of some kind, like a circus, clowns, a fair with kids rides, and you will get a large attendance, but that doesn’t mean they are people who come to participate. The bottom line is that people come into your building one of two ways, with the hand open to get, or with their hands full to give. You cannot build a church focusing on give-ways. You have to have people who come to work with you in developing the church and making it work. They will sacrifice, and the free goodies seekers will never make a church.
Sacrifice – Every church has new people “drop in”. Just opening the doors will get some people that way usually. But again these people may come, and may even attend regularly, but the main issue is getting the people God gives you to sacrifice. I need to caution that many churches are set up and run basically as cash cows for the pastor and his personal desires. This is sinful and not what I am talking about. Pastors need to put their own aspirations and luxuries and comforts to one side, and they need to do the work of God. This is evangelism and edification of God’s people. To do the work of God you need money.
Many people “knock” churches because they “are always asking for money.” That is a valid complaint. For some churches, it is a critical flaw that overtakes the entire organization and becomes its central focus, with everything else being subservient. People need to run from these churches. But reality is that God has set in stone the precept of a local church like the New Testament teaches us, and it is founded on God’s people sacrificing in order to do God’s will and work. How to raise money, what people’s motives should be in giving, and how they give are all important.
Bible Study – God has given us his genius in his instruction book. It is not wrong or flawed, But everything the church does and believes should be thoroughly saturated and integrated with Scripture. It is how we know what is right and wrong on an individual level as well as a group.
Body Life – God, in his eternal wisdom and genius, has designed a means (the church) whereby his work is done, and at the same time the very instrument of doing this work receives spiritual provision (food). This body life, or living in a dynamic relationship with other Christians in a local church context is what gives us our spiritual strength. So many Christians have been brainwashed into thinking that church is not necessary nor essential. It is. Spiritually you will dwarf and spiritually die without this dynamic life in the body of Christ.
Pastors and church leaders need to pay a lot of attention to the temperature, the activities, the attitudes, and other factors involved in their church. When sheep are well fed, healthy, and growing, then they fulfill their purpose.
Being Evangelistic – The church is the body of the redeemed, and each and every saved person has a mission to testify of their Savior to the rest of the world. This is a foundation concept that so many churches and Christians lose sight of. They want to delegate that task to other people, their pastor, their church staff, or missionaries, or even evangelists. It is uncomfortable to press people about their relationship with Christ, but that is exactly what we are to do.
Being Missionary – To be evangelistic is to have a functioning atmosphere and activity in the church of constantly presenting, desiring, praying for the salvation of souls. Being missionary is to extend that beyond the walls of your own particular local church. There is a mindset of biblical churches of the three selfs. Self-supporting, self-governing, and self-propagating. A church must function on its own without other outside groups or entities helping it to exist. This may be acceptable for a mission until it is “on its feet,” but they should be working towards this goal of being self-sustaining.
Priorities – What has destroyed the biblical church in our times has been the distraction of getting off on hobby horses and side trails that are not the biblical priorities that Christ has. The first priorities is the salvation of souls, and secondly, the building and maintaining of the instrument of communicating that first priority, which is the discipleship and spiritual edification of the body of Christ concentrated in local churches.