In the past several decades we have seen massive church growth. Church attendance in the world is at an all-time high. Yet, in most places of the world, cultural decline keeps accelerating at an alarming rate.
Not long ago it was reported that another prominent Protestant pastor now advocates a pluralist belief that there are many roads to God and salvation (Michael A. Walrond Jr. of Harlem’s 10,000-member First Corinthian Baptist Church.)
Among other things he said was “People take many paths to God, he argued, noting that he personally celebrates the paths others take in finding Him — even if that path does not involve faith in Jesus.” (Christian Post)
In this same article it was also reported:
Since my connection to Christ in 1978 I have observed many models or views people have regarding how they connect to the body of Christ. The following are some of the popular views I have observed regarding how believers define the church for themselves.
1. The “I am the church” concept
Many people do not have any personal affiliation to any particular local church even though they still attempt to cultivate a relationship with God. They may even read the Bible, pray, and share their faith but they have no organic connection to any community of believers.
I have been a pastor almost thirty-four years and have been involved in initiating or participated in many local, citywide and national prayer gatherings. God has made it very clear that our first priority as leaders is to spend time with Him before we are sent out to minister (Mark 3:14). The apostle Paul also implores all believers to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). In spite of all this, there are many denominational and non-denominational churches that do not have a regular prayer meeting. Consequently, in spite of the many good programs they may have, there is a huge gap in the church.
We are presently witnessing a transition in ministry across this country. There are many senior pastors who are about to leave the scene and many, if not most, are not ready to pass the baton to someone else! Some of the larger megachurches have an even bigger issue on their hands when their senior leader steps down or retires because they have to find a leader with the gifts and charisma to fill huge auditoriums. (If their successors cannot fill them, it will be interesting to see how they will be able to pay their utility bills with half-empty sanctuaries!)
My wife Joyce and I planted our local church over thirty years ago (on January 29, 1984) in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn, New York. We were not sent out with any money and with only a handful of people who volunteered to serve with us. The following is based on all the mistakes I have made as a church planter and the lessons I wish someone had coached me through.
I. Be sent from your local church
The word of God teaches us that there are times God’s presence can leave the corporate expression of His people. We see this in 1 Samuel 4:21-22 when the name Ichabod was given to the grandson of Eli, the high priest, after the ark of the covenant was captured by the Philistines. Also, in the book of Revelation 3:1 Jesus told the church of Sardis that they had a reputation of being alive but was dead. Hence, it is possible for communities of faith to be dead or dying.
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