I spent some quality time with one of the best church planters in a particular city. In just a few years, he has planted almost 10 campuses or extensions of the original church he started about 10 years ago. He was also involved in a prayer meeting with other church planters for several years. When I asked him if this weekly prayer meeting was still functional, he told me that it no longer exists because most of these planters are no longer ministering in the city and that many of the churches are either closed or are led by another pastor. He said that he has almost no pastor friends left in the area.
The Bible uses certain animals as metaphors to depict certain kinds of people in the kingdom. Pastors and senior leaders of organizations need to discern at least three kinds of people in their organizations to effectively lead.
Although most people may have a mixture of all three traits at times in their lives, it is very possible that either the negative or positive traits of a person can suck them fully into either the dark side or the light of the Kingdom of God. It is inevitable that every growing organization and/or church will attract all three of these kinds of people simultaneously.
I have served as a senior pastor for over 30 years, and I have also worked extensively with political, community and business leaders over the past three decades. As my understanding regarding the Kingdom of God and marketplace ministry has evolved, I see church with a new lens and notice the frustration many young people and professionals have regarding their local churches. Many in these categories feel limited rather than celebrated and released into their callings.
The Bible teaches that the church is supposed to influence the world as salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16), but instead the church has often been influenced by the world. The book of Ezekiel 22:26 sends a stern rebuke to believers who make no distinction between that which is common and that which is holy (by “common” I mean worldly things and values).
In this article “secular” refers to worldly rather than holy and set apart for God’s purposes. Truly any congregation that has no distinction from the world is close to extinction. The reason so many evangelical churches have grown so rapidly is not necessarily because of a true spiritual revival but because of cultural accommodation.
There is presently much talk against the idea of denominations, since they make the church appear to be divided and fragmented.
I personally have often wondered what it would be like had the Great Schism not taken place, when the Eastern Orthodox and Western Roman churches separated in 1054. Specifically, I wonder if the church would have taken the route of Erasmus, who wanted only to reform the Roman Catholic Church (a stance more Evangelicals are taking today) instead of Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation, which further divided the church and opened the door to the thousands of denominations we have today.
The word of God teaches us in Romans 8:29 that believers were predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Since this was written to the church in Rome, we understand the subject of the verse as the corporate body of Christ. Hence, local congregations are called to become Christ-like in their methodology, mission and essence.
Oftentimes we in the church emphasize what a person can do more than what a person should be. Molding Christ-like character is the most important element in a person’s life that determines the trajectory of their talents and influence.
There is a reason why the church has out lived the Roman Empire, as well as every other dynasty and empire that existed at her birth two thousand years ago! In spite of the present day “de-emphasis” of the local church, I am more convinced than ever regarding its significance!
The church has often been taught about the times of refreshing that come during seasons of revival. The first such time recorded was the birth of the church on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) when 3,000 were saved. In Acts 4 and 5 God continued to add to the church daily while there was unity and purpose of heart which released great signs and wonders that confirmed the resurrection of Christ. And in Acts 9, after Saul was converted, the church enjoyed a season of blessing, growth, and renewal.
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