There are several church-plant models. That is, if God calls you to start a new congregation, we’ve developed several ways to begin that work.
A lot of us know the process of receiving money and resources from a denomination or other larger group. From there, it’s time to start knocking door to door to invite people to come to a new worship gathering in the neighborhood.
Another way someone may start a new church is through outreach activities. Someone plans a string of projects meant to better a community. Along the way, some of the same people connect through these events. At a certain point, those people, with the guidance of the church planter, begin to discuss why they’re serving their community. Where does the desire to serve people come from? If it’s God’s work, what’s our next step? Maybe forming a new community of faith. So, a church is born out of service.
I’ve even heard of people who look to fellowship. A church in Galveston did this not too long ago.
A group of guys hoped to make new connections with people in the area. As a result, somehow I got invited to a deep-sea fishing expedition. Since I knew this was a group connected to a church effort, I asked about what they were doing. Their idea was to get to know people through fun activities, things people might be doing already: bowling leagues; trips to the shooting range; crab boils; camping trips. Their sense was that God would use relationships to form new communities of faith.
So, what does all that mean for us?
Well, keep in mind that the expansion of God’s kingdom is God’s desire. Thankfully, God has never stopped preparing people for this kingdom work.
For obvious reasons, I think of the apostle Paul when I think of new churches. He is the original church planter. I’m not sure most of us appreciate the scope of his apostolic trips. There’s a reason why study Bibles include maps of his journies!
But I also don’t want to limit our understanding of God’s kingdom work. Or, as Paul called it in Philippians 1, our sharing the gospel. Paul opened his letter to the Philippians with an affirmation of their faith. Since their first day together in sharing the gospel, Paul thanked God for them.
He should thank God for them.
And we should thank God for the people that share in the gospel with us as well. You and I may not start new churches, but with the Spirit’s guidance, we build up the church we’re in now. Let me tell you, saint, starting a new church is difficult work. But steering an established congregation toward the movement of God’s Spirit can be just as difficult, if not even more so.
So, let me make sure to thank you. I have served in ministry with many of you reading or listening to this. You have encouraged me. You have made difficult and courageous decisions. You have trusted God’s provision. You’ve helped me listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
Sharing the gospel has its challenges. But when we share in the gospel together, there’s a joy bestowed upon us direct from God.