Friday, December 28, 2012

Planting Churches in America's 'Celebrity Pastor' Culture

Many Americans clamor for celebrities....not only in Hollywood, but even in churches. This creates both a challenge and an opportunity for churches today. The challenge in our "celebrity pastor" culture is to joyfully embrace the need to send out more and more disciples to plant new churches. The opportunity is actually identical to the challenge. It is the incredible privilege to turn attenders and members into church planters.

Why church planting? Because it is God's method for reaching the lost and making disciples....and it is God's method for taking your discipleship to the next level. There is a tremendous amount of spiritual warfare that goes on with church planting. Satan hates to see Spirit-filled believers plant new congregations, and so he works very hard to discourage, distract, and divide any group of disciples who pursue this task to the glory of God.
All Christians encounter some spiritual resistance when attending worship services and participating in a small group....but when a group of believers are sent out to start a new church, watch out! They better be "prayed up," and geared up for the long haul. It will be unlike anything they have encountered in their Christian life, and it will stretch their faith like never before.
It is one thing to go on a week-long mission trip to another country. That will certainly test your faith a bit. But if you step out as part of a church plant, it is a whole new dimension of spiritual activity. It's like the difference between babysitting a child for a compared to adopting a child for a lifetime. One is good....the other is "off the charts" good. Church planting is the most vital work in God's kingdom, and it is straight out of the New Testament. But it is not for the faint of heart....and not for anyone who feels like he must attend a megachurch in order to have his needs met....or a church of any particular size for that matter.
A church plant is not driven by a consumer mentality of "what's in it for me and my family?" It is about frontline mission work for Christ....and that is in direct opposition to the spiritual forces of darkness in our world. There will be little applause....and plenty of trials....but boy can it accomplish God's purposes on earth if the Holy Spirit sends you and a group of believers to do it.
There are quite a few lay elders in churches today who are capable of planting a new church. Some of them have pastoral gifts of preaching and teaching which are rarely used in their "big church." These guys need to spread their wings and fly. Church planting provides a much broader focus than attending elders' meetings to make decisions for hundreds or thousands of people. Church planting is not really about who gets to make the decisions....but more about New Testament pastoral ministry with the believers. It is significantly different from the role that many lay elders seem to have today. Church planting is mainly about prayer and the ministry of the Word....and personal relationships between the shepherds and the sheep.

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