There are churches all around us with amazing structures, beautiful buildings, tremendous worship teams, and large turnouts. Most pastors are captivated by them. But let’s ask ourselves: How did that congregation start? How much did it cost to get there? What challenges did they face? These questions help us see beyond the exterior and consider the years of hard work from these churches.
My family and a couple of friends decided to answer the Lord’s call to “go and make disciples” by planting a church. I’ve dreamed of having one of those big, beautiful congregations. Although I enjoy it, I’m living through one of the most difficult times for a local church. We haven’t seen exponential growth, we’re still refining our theology, and we lack the capacity to serve the church. This stage is full of financial, organizational, and time-based obstacles and challenges that most planters face.
I know I’m in a learning process that will last my whole life. But there are three priorities I’ve committed to that have helped me find balance amid the excessive church-planting workload.
1. Love God’s Glory More Than Souls
Loving God’s glory more than people’s souls may sound contradictory to the call to “go and make disciples.” But I don’t mean we shouldn’t love souls, or that there shouldn’t be a burning desire in our hearts to preach to the community God has sent us. What I mean is that our desire for mission should never be above our love for God.
Many missionaries respond to that call with the wrong approach. Instead of seeking Christ’s glory, they seek to accumulate numbers to report. What’s troubling is there’s no longer a love for faithful preaching of the gospel. There’s no trust in the work of the Holy Spirit to reach people. All the responsibility falls on the planter, and his job becomes frustrating and draining.
I don’t want to discourage you in your efforts to reach as many people as you can. But I do want to remind you that the glory of God lies in jealously loving his Word, because God was pleased to reach the sinner through the preaching of the gospel (1 Cor. 1:21). God is most glorified when we trust his Holy Spirit to convict us of unrighteousness, sin, and judgment (John 16:8). It’s not our methods, effort, eloquence in preaching, events, or programs. It’s Christ alone working in favor of his own. To him be the glory! It’s not our methods, effort, eloquence in preaching, events, or programs. It’s Christ alone working in favor of his own. To him be the glory! Click To Tweet
2. Love Souls More Than Books
Planters must read. Our shelves should be filled with books on leadership, church government, biblical restoration, and expository preaching. They’re tools that help us be better pastors. It’s our duty to devote time and effort toward reading. In fact, we’re called to devour the Scriptures without measure. But what’s the benefit to the church if all knowledge stays in the mind and never goes down to the heart?
We must be aware that there are real people waiting for us to practice everything we’ve learned. Without realizing it, our study becomes our place of refuge. But our refuge should be Christ, and God calls us to lead our church to that refuge. This isn’t achieved just by reading books. This emanates from the love and passion that only his Spirit puts within us to guide people to Jesus. We’re called to devour the Scriptures without measure. But what’s the benefit to the church if all knowledge stays in the mind and never goes down to the heart? Click To Tweet
Love the Word and read it fervently. Read all the books you can. But when you must decide between reading a book and disciple-making, choose the calling God has given you—shepherd his flock.
3. Love Books More Than Entertainment
As a bi-vocational church planter, my biggest challenge is maintaining a biblical balance between my family, secular work, and planting. This usually leads me to be excessively tired. I want to “disconnect” from all the tasks and take advantage of time for myself. Although I know it’s biblical to rest, many times I give into the temptation of not using my free time diligently. I waste it on things as ephemeral as being on my phone, watching television, or simple idleness.
Every day we must choose between a book that uplifts our soul or relaxing in a way that doesn’t lead to a good, uplifting purpose. Let’s pray the Lord gives us the disposition to make better use of our time, and that we would have a balance that glorifies Christ in all our activities. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help us in our weaknesses to love the study of his Word and other good books more than selfish time that we claim for ourselves.
Church planting is rewarding but exhausting. There’s no greater satisfaction than serving the kingdom of our Savior. There’s no better reward than to see people being saved and sanctified. Blessed be the Lord who entrusted us with his flock and gave us the resources and gifts to present him with a bride without blemish.There’s no greater satisfaction than serving the kingdom of our Savior. There’s no better reward than to see people being saved and sanctified. Click To Tweet
Maybe one day you’ll have that big, beautiful building full of people, or maybe you’ll always be in your garage. Whatever your situation, love the glory of God more than souls, love souls more than books, and love books more than entertainment. Give yourself completely to this beautiful ministry and live for the glory of Christ!