A Guide for The 21st Century Church Planter
A Guide for The 21st Century Church Planter
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I now know that God uses people to plant seeds of faith in people’s lives to be used when HE desires.
I would like to thank Michael Smith for being the servant of God that he needed to be to believe in me to start the process that became THE COMMUNITY MISSION Church plant in Canaan, Connecticut.
I would also like to thank my brother Apostle Dennis Osasere Ogbewi for planting the seeds in me that would eventually grow into what they have become today.
Of course, I must include my wife Renata, who first planted the seeds in me with her love and devotion to me and has watered them for almost 30 years.
I didn’t mean to write this book. It came as part of my weekly prayer for writing my sermon. One of my members of our small church plant in Canaan, Connecticut, told me an “unsubstantiated rumor” that a pastor in town had said I wasn’t a “real pastor and our church wasn’t a real church.”
This led me to write a sermon about what a real church is or what THE real church is.
Below is part of this sermon.
I started the sermon (and because we are taped for weekly local T.V. broadcast) by introducing a short video I found on the internet. It was a 2 minute video explaining what a MISSIONAL CHURCH is.
The video talked about how a “typical” church these days, builds their members by promoting and advertising for people to come INTO their building so that their MEMBERSHIP can grow inside the building-with the idea that what happens inside the building is more important than what happens outside the building.
The opposite is true of the MISSIONAL CHURCH. The missional church believes that their “members” represent THE CHURCH wherever they go and thus, “they bring the church into all the world-as they represent Christ”.
Today’s message…is a response to some words that were spoken to me last week. Whether they are true or not, I want to respond to them because, if I do not, I feel I will disrespect every person that watches this show on TV and who listen to me each week….the people I counsel daily, the people who help daily at the MISSION and the people that support us and receive SUPPORT for THE COMMUNITY MISSION. But, before I tell you….let me say a few things first, to people who may be watching for the first time.
In June of 2012, this CHRISTIAN OUTREACH began with 2 scriptures : Romans 12:10
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.
These are Our Core Scriptures that we built this ministry on…because we felt that if Jesus was walking the streets of Canaan, CT he would say/ do the exact same thing….
HE, is walking the streets of Canaan. He walks it with me as I walk and pray for every person. He does the same with my wife who loves every person she comes in contact with….He does it with the “members” of this church that He has been “discipling” through my wife and myself….people who would not be going to ANY church if THE COMMUNITY MISSION was not here in Canaan.
The words that were said were that THE COMMUNITY MISSION was not a REAL CHURCH…thus implying that I was not a real minister….well, that is not true.
The COMMUNITY MISSION is a CHURCHES OF GOD CHURCH PLANT. We are supported and funded by one of the fastest growing Denominations in the country….this is my 6th plant as a team, the 2nd church we have started in the past 10 year. The last church we planted in the Boston, MA area is twice as big as when we left it 5 years ago.
But this person is right about one thing….we are not a REAL CHURCH…if a real church is a building….then we don’t look like what you would think…typically.
So…What Does The Real Church Look Like?
I believe with all my heart that God is going to re-establish His true Church - the real Church.
I’m talking about the Church that GOD intended, the one that makes it possible for those who really believe in Him to see His purpose fulfilled in their lives.
And what is God’s purpose?
To see all those who believe in Him conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit working in the Church (His true Church), the Father wants to strip away everything in us that doesn’t look like Jesus.
To see what the real church looks like requires a somewhat novel approach, we’ll have to look at the scriptures. I know it sounds crazy, but trust me on this. You won’t find what you’re looking for in church history books. After all, the first church wasn’t a Baptist church in Oklahoma or Texas.
No, the first real church was Jesus and His 12 disciples.
The first church was actually a training school for those who would establish the second-generation churches after Jesus ascended back to the Father.
It was Jesus showing His disciples, first hand, how to have church. They met in houses and gardens, by the sea and on boats in the sea, in the middle of the road, on hillsides and on mountaintops.
- They met wherever Jesus happened to be. These meetings formed their understanding of what church was supposed to be and established a pattern for the next generation of churches.
- Church is supposed to be the support system for believers in their continuous, uninterrupted relationship with Jesus. It should support them in their constant, openly transparent, submissive, obedient, life changing, transforming, renewing, Holy Spirit-led, love relationship with the Savior; and if you’re ever going to be conformed to the image of Christ, that is the lifestyle that is required.
- But there is a New Testament model. If Jesus and His 12 disciples were the first generation church, then those established by the disciples after Jesus’ ascension were the second generation churches. Now, it’s time to really pay attention again. Remember the principle illustrated by the first church was living with Jesus. He was there, physically with them, every day, every night, day after day, week after week, for almost 4 years. Then He was gone! Now these men, and others, began establishing churches all over the place (in Asia Minor, Europe and Africa). And the principle of these second generation churches comes through loud and clear. Are you ready for this? If you can remember what you’ve already read, you should be able to guess.
Here it is: LIVING WITH JESUS IN A COMMUNITY OF OTHER BELIEVERS WHO ARE LIVING WITH HIM TOO!!!
- Now, what does this have to do with what the real church looks like? I’m glad you asked. The answer is found in, Ephesians 4:25. This is what it says, "Therefore, rejecting outright everything that is false, let us all show forth this true reality to those who are likeminded with us, for we are all members of the same body." This is what the real church should look like today: likeminded people (those with the courage to pursue Him on His terms, not theirs) who meet together to share with one another the true reality of Christ in their lives. What has He taught you and how have you changed? This is the real church: those who are being conformed to the image of Christ, sharing their experiences with one another, encouraging and supporting one another as they go.
I’ll end this portion of this sermon with this, it tells us what God intended and what the Scriptures describe (this is a simple explanation of Colossians 2:5-7): believers standing together, drawing strength from one another (verse 5), determined to live with Him and be like Him (verse 6), and having the very foundation of their lives firmly established on the things He is teaching them and being thankful for His participation in their lives (verse 7). Now that’s what the real church looks like.
I ended this sermon by talking about the 12 disciples and how they were just ORDINARY PEOPLE that God used despite their faults. HE used them instead of the most likely people during the day (we can see the same thing happening today). Judas, was the “most likely” to be the most successful, because of his background, but we know that he didn’t quite work out. I believe he is an underused example of how we, as a world, stereotype the people we expect to spread the gospel.
I end this preface, the way I ended the sermon, by referencing the video and how “everything new is old” and that the MISSIONAL CHURCH is just….the “old school church,” that Jesus taught.
MISSIONAL CHURCH PLANTER’S MANUAL
- GO….FIND THE TOWN YOU WANT TO PLANT
- LIVE THERE…work there…
- LIVE AMONG THE PEOPLE
- FIND OUT THE NEEDS OF THE TOWN
- FIND OTHERS WHO FEEL THE SAME WAY YOU DO
- ASK LIKE MINDED PEOPLE TO WORK WITH YOU
- FIND A SPACE THAT WILL GIVE YOU AT LEAST 3-6 MONTHS OF FREE RENT
- FIND “SUSTAINING FAMILIES”, members, supporters etc. who will support your ministry
- Find, keep support systems to keep you healthy(outside of your community)
- Immediately(or beforehand) Get on local T.V. Station and Youtube….establish Facebook Community
The above list is a culmination of almost a year of “learning” about being a CHURCH PLANTER. I use the term CHURCH PLANTER here and put it in capital letters for a reason. The reason is that for the first time in over 25 years, my wife and I are using this term because we are called that by the church that is sponsoring us and have invested time and money in us to PLANT the church/ministry that is THE COMMUNITY MISSION.
Before last year, we were just disciples, doing what the Great Commission told us to do. We …went….where ever God sent us and …served.
Before we started THE COMMUNITY MISSION, I served in a Baptist Church in a neighboring town, as an Assistant Minister for over 4 years. Neither my wife nor I have any experience with the Baptist Church but God used us there to learn about how to love a church, a community and honing my preaching skills. He also showed me how to be patient and wait from Him to perfect His will in me, so that He could lead us to His next assignment.
Several things had to…line up for us to be in the position to…move on.
When it was time, God revealed to us, and lined up the people, place and things to start with #1 on the list.
#1 GO….FIND THE TOWN YOU WANT TO PLANT
In our case, it took our current landlord to back out of the deal we made with him to buy the home we were living in and we had to move. Because I was unemployed at the time, the best solution at the time was to search for a house in the neighboring town where the rents were cheaper.
We were able to save $500 a month by doing so.
We did not know of our calling to plant at this time, but just trusted God that He had everything under control. Within 6 months, God showed me what He wanted me to do (by showing me what I could NOT do in my current position at the church I was at) and WHAT He wanted me to do…in Canaan Connecticut.
God set up a way for His next step to happen.
I responded to an ad I saw on the internet for a Church planter. Ironically, the person who initially met with, I had met 8 years earlier, when he was planting a church in Southeast Massachusetts.
At this time, I was not looking at Canaan as a town to plant a church. I was too busy trying to find a job and had not really met too many people.
But, as soon as my wife and I committed to the “concept” of planting, God started to draw people to us to advance His will.
A year later, I see now (and continue to see) the people God used to get us this far.
I will depart from the story at this time to talk about the sermon I will be preaching the day I was writing this book(3-10-2013)
I will be preaching a sermon titled…KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID…
This sermon, basically launched this book because, God reminded me that the facts that I see in front of me are NOT a representation of the FACTS that HE sees through his eyes. We (humans) only see what God wants us to see and often, we are to learn from this….THE PROCESSS and NOT…the PRODUCT.
Like all evangelism, the preacher is not the one who realizes the result of his preaching because we do not see where the recipient ends up.
I tell the story often of the 4 year old girl who asked me, “if I knew Jesus” when I did not, as being as influential as ANY preacher or Christian who presented the Gospel to me, before I accepted Christ in my life.
During the week of me sitting down to write this book, God revealed many different “processes” that He wanted me to learn about the last year. Some of these, I am not able to comment on, because the Process is not completed yet. Yet, God is showing me and telling me that even if we “fail” as a church plant in this town, it is not a failure at all because every life that we either touched, God will use as HE sees fit.
Like the “ordinary” disciples God used over 2000 years ago, He is using today and He will continue to use until THE CHURCH is the way God intended it to be, as detailed in the Book of Revelation
Summarizing this chapter, I will simply say that the key to #1 is that when we obediently walk in God’s will for our lives, He will use both heaven and Earth to complete the CHURCH PLANTING process wherever He leads you.
We must remember, as I have learned recently, that We can NOT be so hard on ourselves and try to “measure” our success with “earthly measures” because, this can not be measured!
As long as we are obedient, God will pave the way!
#2 LIVE THERE…work there…
The more you become “invested” in your new town, the more God can use you. During the time I started THE COMMUNITY MISSION I was unemployed and doing whatever job I could do. By “allowing” my ego to be diminished (my last job before unemployment was a School Administrator, with the stress and prestige that went with it) I was able to find out about WHO were the real people of my town. I found out by working WITH them as a carpenter, a painter and factory- worker, the WAY the town people …really lived. I learned what their needs were by EXPERIENCING… exactly what they were experiencing. I worked with and among the needy because I WAS ONE OF THEM. I continue to be in this position, as I write. God has allowed me to ease back into my field-but only part-time. and at a much lower salary than I am used to.
I must still rely on HIM to meet my needs on a monthly, as I must somehow teach this PROCESS to my family….a PROCESS in itself.
As I am still learning, I must continue to work among the people, so I paint and do odd jobs to pay the bills. These jobs keep me close to the majority of the working class people that make up this community. I understand that if I lived in another community that the people and jobs were different, I would certainly have to ADJUST accordingly.
This is part of the learning process that a CHURCH PLANTER must understand.
I did not know this, or practice this in previous church plants.
The people….the people…the people…it is all about the people!
As a planter, we must always remember that Jesus did not come to save the healthy, but the sick. We must always remember, that this “sickness” also means the churches too.
One of the first things I learned when reaching out to the faith community, is that “those that are sick don’t want to deal with the fact that they are sick” and thus will not want to be a part of future growth.
If they don’t think they are sick, therefore they don’t need to be healed. And, I have learned that you can not force the PROCESS in trying to work with these people, nor should it be your job!
As I stated earlier, our job is to preach the Gospel the way God wants us to and we must then rest on The Holy Spirit to do His work to bring the word to fruition. We must rely on the PROCESS of God using MANY to fulfill HIS will. We must also, NOT believe that OUR WAY is also the right way or best way.
PRIDE is not something that God can use to forward our cause. SERVING….yes….LOVE…yes….HUMILITY…..yes…but not …PRIDE.
Again, our job as Church Planters is to get to know the people (including the faith leaders) we were called to dwell among and get to know them as best as we can. We must try to include them as much as we can in our activities and give it all to God. This is yet another…PROCESS.
DO YOUR BEST AND GIVE THE REST…TO GOD.
LIVE AMONG THE PEOPLE
I separate, and perhaps take a chance of being redundant, by differentiating LIVING AMONG THE PEOPLE from …working AMONG THE PEOPLE.
The people that you LIVE among must be able to relate to you as a PASTOR and also as their peer. Because the people that you are most likely to be ministering to are “unchurched”…they do not have either a reference point to understand what or who a pastor is. So, they will WATCH you and LEARN from you are they WORIK with you. Your work habits and lifestyle is the first and most important thing that they swill SEE, as they try to figure out WHAT the NEW CHURCH will be.
THE COMMUNITY MISSION opened under one premise…TO SERVE.
We concluded, that they only way for us to serve, was by being…OPEN….to serve.
This premise, did, and does, fly in the face of HOW people see (or understand) their PERCEPTION of “the church” they are accustomed to. I also allowed myself to be available for people 24/7. I can not say that this is the right method for everyone, but it just seemed right for me. My thought was that if I was to be the shepherd, of thee flock, I must always be watching over them and be there for them and if I was not, then …who …would.
This “style” of church, I feel was right for Canaan, CT. I strongly believe it will also work (with some variation) as it is applied to other communities.
The MISSIONAL CHURCH must be accessible to the community in which is serves and adapt and change as the community changes.
It must not PRESUME to know what the community needs. The only way to figure this out is by LIVING among the people and BEING a part of their daily lives….to feel the pulse of how the community beats.
The only way I believe this can be done is by being open DAILY and keeping track of the ongoing trends of what happens, as the people report it to you, as they trust you.
USE the talents of the people that want to be a part of what you do.
Jesus walked and worked among the people and respected the people they were…not just as he met them, but who they formerly were and who they could be.
God gives, I believe, a pastor a heart for his people.
A MISSIONAL PASTOR, must work even harder at this because he must understand that he must, “labor among” his new flock and trust their talents to grow. He must understand that the PLANT is NOT about HIM, but about THE PEOPLE. His job is to understand the people and to “build them up, “ to be the people God intends them to be.
Because they are: sick, broken, hurt, unchurched, untrusting, addicted, etc,
A Missional Pastor must meet their BASIC and IMMEDIATE needs before, during and after he meets their SPIRITUAL NEEDS.
And, we must trust in the PROCESS of LOVE and REDEMPTION.
If we can be open, to give food, and that is all people need…then we give food. If they are not ready to receive the Gospel, then we trust in God’s plan for that person. We give what we can….when we can and trust in God to do the rest.
The MISSIONAl CHURCH is not like traditional churches were you measure success by the number of members you have or the tithes that are collected. The Missional church is measured by “intangible” qualities like: acts of kindness, volunteers participating, donations received, food and clothes given. We use the term SUPPORTERS to describe the people that make us work.
We understand that EVERYONE is important to the daily success and that the mission of THE MISSION is to make sure that ALL the needs of a person can be met when they enter to get help. This does not mean that I can help everyone and their needs but we like to think that with God, all things are possible and needs could be met with the help of people in our supportive environment.
We pride ourselves on referrals and relationship building with other professional agencies. We trust that God will use others as well as, THE MISSION to fulfill his will.
These relationships, are key to the missional church because God can and will use these relationships to advance the kingdom.
It took COMMUNITY MISSION 9 months to forge our first collaborative event with another church. We understood going into this plant that it would take time for people to trust the COMMUNITY MISSION and this has certainly been the case. I don’t know if this is the rule, but it certainly has been the case for us.
At the time of this writing, I am still learning.
FIND OUT THE NEEDS OF THE TOWN
The fact that I listed these things in order is on purpose. You find out the needs of any town, not by looking online and getting statistics-even though this is important and informative on many levels. I did this and got a general “flavor” of Canaan, CT.
These statistics give you a general idea of what you are working with, but they do not tell the whole story. What does not show up on the statistics are the REAL statistics like the REAL unemployed or people that don’t have enough food to eat. The statistics also do not capture the real population either, For instance, the(illegal) immigrant population does not show up in any demographic study. These groups are an integral part of Canaan and surrounding towns but they are not spoken of. The Mission has not yet addressed this population because we have not yet gained their trust but we understand that until we do, our job of KNOWING the needs of our town is not done.
Understanding needs is a fluid thing. Unlike “ministries” of the traditional church like Youth Ministry or Children’s Ministry, The “NEEDS MINISTRY” as I term it, is the key ministry of the Missional Church.
In a Missional Church , the Teen Training Ministry or Hunger Prevention Ministry are more aptly named Ministries for what we hope to accomplish, because this is what we do everyday. Other Ministries can be called: Recovering from a Bad Experience Growing up without Religion being in my Life Ministry or Not Knowing What the Bible Says about fill-in-Blank” Ministry, because the un-churched don’t even know what a “ministry “ is.
I tongue-in-cheeky named these ministries to make a point. The Missional Church does not have any hard and fast rules because the rules change with every town, THIS is why the “old school” Jesus following method of Ministry is the only RULE of The Missional Church.
Asking, “What would Jesus do?” when assessing what to do in a Missional Church always gets the right answer.
Naming ministries and then asking that group to come be a part of it may not be the best way to draw people. It certainly is not the most accurate way to address a certain group, because although they may belong to a certain demographical group, their “unique” attributes do not always have enough draw to make it attractive for them to want to join a group.
At the COMMUNITY MISSION, we find that the best way to DISCIPLE is to build people up….to help them be stronger Christians so their own PERSONAL MINISTRY is one that is CONFIDENT. Then, as I explained in the Preface, the CHURCH grows OUTWARDLY instead of inwardly.
As previously noted, THE MISSIONAL CHURCH’S value in the community is NOT measured by membership but instead, by LIVES CHANGED.
FIND OTHERS WHO FEEL THE SAME WAY YOU DO
After 4 chapters of explaining the WHYS, of MISSIONAL CHURCH planting, the next question is WHO YOU SHOULD PLANT WITH.
The simple answer is ANYONE and EVERYONE.
Just like it could be said that EVERYONE knows someone who has been affected by cancer, we can also say that EVERYONE has been affected by TRADITIONAL CHURCHES not addressing the needs of a community and more specifically, not meeting individual needs.
Because a church that does not know what the people need, will not be able to meet their needs. In one of my other books, I noted that churches over the last 50 years have slowly but surely abdicated their responsibilities to the government and when the government no longer were able to meet these needs, people were left with no one to turn to. When I grew up, neighborhood churches were the place for people to go to for help and the people, in turn, supported the churches financially. But, over the last 50 years, since the government assumed so much responsibility for social needs, the justification for taxing the people more for these services was a rational choice. Taxing has continued to rise but services have continued to diminish. (Government waste has also increased) So, now people are left with a bigger government, with less services and people having less money to donate to the churches that are now trying to revive some of the services they used to offer.
This leaves the churches, Missional and Traditional alike, trying to operate with very little money for HELPING MINISTRIES.
The TRADITIONAL CHURCH is generally supported by members, with the expectation that they tithe 10% of their income. A recent report, which used data from evangelical and mainline churches including Lutheran, Presbyterians and Episcopalian churches, in fact revealed that tithing as a percentage of income was at its lowest level in 41 years, Religion News Service noted.
Parishioners were only giving about 2.38 percent of their income to the church in 2009, down from 2.43 percent in 2008 – shockingly low percentages.
My personal belief is that…there simply is not …enough money to go around…not like…”in the old days” as the saying goes.
Yet, the needs continue and towns need to find a way to help the needy.
Matthew 26:11 says the poor will always be among us. So we must always find provisions to help the poor.
Matthew 5:42 says, that we should GIVE TO THE ONE WHO ASKS
Matthew 10:8 says that we FREELY RECEIVE AND SHOULD FREELY GIVE
Proverbs 28:27 Solomon says that the one who gives to the poor will lack nothing. However, the person that turns his back on the poor(when they are able to help)will be cursed much
These scriptures imply that we should be “channels” for God on earth, as we learn and are edified, we should produce the same inn others. As we receive (are blessed)we should give(bless others).
To end this section, we are reminded that the Apostle Paul spoke in Acts 20:33-35 that he worked with his own hands to supply his own needs. As an example we can help the weak when we earn wages from our labor.
At the COMMUNITY MISSION, we have a motto that says, “if you can give then thank you, if we can bless you then we are happy to”.
By this motto, we hope to offer people a “hand up” not a “hand out”.
ASK LIKE MINDED PEOPLE TO WORK WITH YOU
If you have been doing what God wants you to do as a believer, and doing what Matthew 28:16 says, “ Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”, you will have met people in your town and have already been meeting or talking about growing your gathering. If you are a Church Planter, you already have either ideas that you have been praying about and/or worked out these ideas with your Planting Team.
You now, because of your obedience, have ears to share these ideas with in hopes for them to PARTNER with you.
The PARTNERING is a natural progression in getting people behind PROGESSING THE GOSPEL in your town and NOT… PROGRESSING YOUR IDEAS.
Everyone has ideas but God has made a Plan to PROGRESS the Gospel THROUGH you and THROUGH the PLAN that HE has placed in HIS servant to fulfill THE GREAT COMMISSION in your town.
Your role, in subsequent conversations about the future plan is to convince people that their role is …just to be …who they are.
You are NOT looking for: deacons, teachers, preachers…or even… MEMBERS. You are looking for “like minded people who want to grow in their love and understanding of God and have a willing heart to listen to what God wants for THEM. This is the START of you’re your new…CHURCH. YOU are now being the Pastor of them. They will look upon you for guidance and you must provide it to them. If these are un-churched people, then not only will you be their Pastor, you are also their teacher and maybe even their friend. This is a time for you to build your relationship as their pastor and as I learned the hard way, to teach “boundaries”. I will expand on this more in a later chapter.
While in this stage, you are evaluating the talents of those working with you and must make quick decisions, often because people are enthusiastic to serve. I encourage Planters in this stage to NOT discourage a “willing heart” and model your expectation that a willing heart is just as important as a “talented person” because the Disciples were not, for the most part, the most talented, but were willing. Jesus used not only their talents, but their LIMITATIONS, to advance the Gospel. It is an opportunity to take a willing heart and work beside them until they are proficient in the task they volunteer to do. This is the….”Making disciples” part the The Great Commission. By doing this, you are also modeling the SERVANT’S HEART that you want them to aspire to have. They will learn how to be servants because YOU serve THEM. You must remember, in the early stages of your plant, that God will speak to you, often, faster than He has ever spoken to you before because you are now praying in a different way than you ever did before. You are praying for others and expecting God to answer and when He does, you shouldn’t be surprised. You are now the person that God has appointed to MAKE decisions for others and on behalf of others and if you are open to the Spirit, you will receive instruction for every step you take. So, you must be ready for this. I have to say, I was not and was “blown away” by the presence of God in my life in the very early days.
But…isn’t this what you want? Nuff said!
FIND A SPACE THAT WILL GIVE YOU AT LEAST 3-6 MONTHS OF FREE RENT
In today’s unstable economy, there is some “wiggle room” for building owners to give a new ministry free rent. Not only is this a good plan for them-they get to show good will to your ministry, but it is good for your ministry, because it takes some initial pressure off of you to immediately perform financially.
“New churches present the best hope for advancing God’s kingdom on earth and sharing the Gospel. As Dave Ferguson, lead pastor of Community Christian Church in Chicago and movement leader for the NewThing church planting network, said in the July/August 2012 issue of Outreach magazine: “We know that church planting is tremendously effective. Church plants will grow 23 times faster than the average church that is 10 years old or older. Church plants will also reach five times as many people who are far from God as the average church.”
This is what you are able to tell the building owner, who asks you why they should invest in a “brand new ministry/church.”
This is also the information you will remind present and future supporters. It is also what you should lovingly tell the existing church leaders in town when approaching them for collaboration. Communicate a compelling vision.
“When God wants a new church started and a city to be impacted by Him, He taps someone like you on the shoulder and places a vision in his heart. He has invited you to join Him in what He is doing. He’s not asking you to go out and do something for Him and give Him progress reports along the way. Bruce Wilkinson once said, “When you find the vision for your life, you won’t take hold of it; it will take hold of you.” A vision is something that begins as a thought and eventually
captures your heart and life.
Hopefully, God has placed in you a vision to start a new church, and it has captured your heart. You cannot ignore it because it is taking hold of you like “fire shut up in your bones.”
When communicating vision, stating the need is critical. With need, there must also be a clearly defined strategy along with a projected result like: “Ninety-five percent of your city is lost and unchurched and we want to bring the Gospel and teaching of the Bible to them, so love can abound”
In other words, the master plan (that you devised before you even started) must clearly communicate the passion, vision and strategy that will move the potential partner to action.
This information above, will be in the heart and mind of the leader and God will use it to communicate to non believer and believers by The Holy spirit. Like stated earlier, your job is to be obedient to your calling and put yourself in places where God can use you to state His message to the people that need to hear. As I also stated, this will happen as fast as the Spirit moves and NOT according to some written “master plan” or schedule devised by people.
Part of the CHURCH PLANTER’S JOB is to constantly be listening to the SPIRIT OF GOD because THE SRIRIT moves as it will and we must follow.
FIND “SUSTAINING FAMILIES”, members, supporters etc. who will support your ministry
At the risk of being contradictory, the healthy MISSIONAL CHURCH ultimately will survive when they are supported financially by members who are able to tithe and/or are supported by generous donors. This statement, in and of itself, kind of flies in the face of what a Missional Church is, but it does not change the real life bottom line. The bills must get paid and you must find a way to make that happen.
At the core of the church’s philosophy is to give and NOT to worry about receiving, but this does not mean that it is wrong to receive.
To the contrary, what it DOES mean is that those who are currently receiving should not feel guilty that they can not currently GIVE.
THE COMMUNITY MISSION’S core scripture (Romans 12:10) again says that we should …Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
When this is the SOLE REASON people serve, and live the ministry, it is a difficult(as a leader) juggling act between faith (that God will provide) and “serving without worry that provisions will be met”.
Finding REVENUE STREAMS to fund the ministry, is this writer’s current opinion of how to accomplish the mission and vision of THE MISSIONAL CHURCH without compromising the integrity of the cause and this does not happen quickly.
One of the first things that I was told by a former mentor was that it will take time to build a good reputation in a new town. This is an understatement! Finding revenue streams in a bad economy is an even harder thing, yet this a what must be done because one of the things that THE MISSIONAL CHURCH can not expect is that its RECIPIENTS are NOT expected to sustain itself.
The MISSIONAL CHURCH is not like the traditional church in that the money that is USED by most of the people is not raised by them, but instead, by a select few ON BEHALF of them, UNTIL they can become one of the givers themselves. This is where THE COMMUNITY MISSION’S other core scripture comes in.
Romans 15:2 Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.
Our goal, when dealing with the unchurched, is to believe in Romans 15:2, to build people up to the point where they can THEN build up others. It is what Jesus did with the disciples. HE MENTORED the mentees until they became proficient enough to be mentors themselves. Then, they were sent out to be a part of the GREAT COMMISSION themselves.
This is why it was said that ANYONE and EVERYONE is EQUAL in the Missional Church because what one person gives TODAY will be the SEED OFFERING that God will be able to use to build up.
Every contribution is important and we view it as such.
The Community Mission believes that if we “build people up” and support them in their “God-given talents,” they will respond to be the leaders that God intended them to be, from the beginning of time (see Psalm 139).
This is why I stated earlier that when starting out, we did NOT seek people to FILL positions of: elders, deacons and teachers. We believe this because we want people to “rise up from within” the ranks and GROW into positions because they have MATURED.
This leads us to our key MILESTONES of the MISSIONAL CHURCH.
We wish to develop…LIFELONG CHRISTIANS.
The Apostle Paul was the most prolific Church Planter that ever lived and he spent his time working with the churches he planted to help them to be this. He would teach the church leaders, then go away and come back only to find them going in a whole other direction. Then he would have to start all over again.
In this day and time, we are most fortunate to be able to communicate much better than in Paul’s day. Our world is much smaller than it was in his time. This means that accountability (which I will talk about in the latter chapters) is better.
Because of the “outside/in” model, every person has the ability to “contribute” to the growth of the MISSIONAL CHURCH.
At THE COMMUNITY MISSION, we started the NEIGHBOR HELPING NEIGHBOR. This program is they key to our food and clothing pantry.
Our pantry is 100% donations and 100% free. Our motto is everything is free…if you can donate, then we will gratefully receive, but it is NOT expected.
We promote the attitude to “bring something, take something” too and this is something that people have gotten into the habit of doing.
Future plans are to open up a bigger “Thrift” and affordable furniture store and offer more “posh” items that we will sell alongside the free items.
We are constantly looking for collaborations and ways to bring in revenue and at the same time bring the gospel to more people.
This balance is our goal.
Find, keep support systems to keep you healthy(outside of your community)
This chapter is the hardest for me to write because I write it with much regret, ongoing forgiveness, and feelings of personal and corporate failure.
At the same time, what I am learning is exactly what God wants me to learn.
The purpose of the book is that when you go into ANY project with ANY preconceived ideas, there is a great chance that you will gravitate towards trying to fulfill these notions. It is the idea of pushing a boulder down a hill. Once it starts rolling, it is hard to stop it.
What I hoped to be able to convey in this book is that in the MISSIONAL CHURCH, God should always be leading the way through the Holy Spirit and that unless God is going to give you another 10 Commandments, then writing down preconceived “plans” puts the “cart before the horse”. I am not saying that you should not have any PLANS but what I am saying is that plans and projections are always subject to HEAVENLY PLANS and this is the ONLY PLAN that you should count on.
The LORD’S PRAYER, should be your guiding BUSINESS PLAN….”on earth as it is in heaven” …should be the measurement tool to evaluate success.
“If it is God’s will,” should be the guiding litmus test for whether it is a good idea or plan or not.
PRAYER, PRAYER, PRAYER is the committee’s mechanism for evaluating these things. If things line up and the ideas you have proposed materialize, then it is the Lord’s will, if not, then you must learn FROM THE PROCESS.
This book, was very much a “cathartic experience” because I was able to put many feelings I had inside me, down in print and by doing so, I hope to be able to help others to not make the same mistakes I had to make.
At this point, I will go back to tell you a little about myself in order to go forward and make my point.
I am a professional musician, having performed for over 25 years publicly. I was this, before I started to be a public speaker and a minister. My many years of being in front of people in every type of environment, has taught me to be ready for ANY environment. Give me a microphone or make me yell without one and I will somehow adapt because I have learned over the years that whatever situation you are in you can not waste it. “Today is the day of salvation” the bible says and “you are not promised tomorrow” is another and when God gives you an opportunity, you must use it to the fullest.
The same is true with planting a MISSIONAL CHURCH. I was told by several speakers in our training for being a planter that their team came into a town with 20-50 people and a half of million dollars and planted their church.
I remember thinking…only in my dreams…
I am not sating that this is wrong or bad, but what I am saying that money and preparedness can “circumvent” the “GRASSROOTS PROCESS” that the disciples experienced in their planting and this type of “surety” can and I do say, CAN blind your true mission, which is to do what this book set out to do….GET TO REALLY KNOW THE PEOPLE OF YOUR TOWN and fill their needs from within. I could spend a whole chapter saying why this is a bad thing, but even at the end it could be viewed as just an opinion and I may even be wrong, because what it will prove, ultimately is that God will use ANY planter, to achieve HIS will and will use the SEED of these plants to achieve His goal.
The goal is to spread the Gospel…it does not matter who does it and by what order or how much money it cost to do so.
The Great commission was told to EVERYONE, not just for planters or ministers.
SUPPORT FOR PASTORS AND THEIR WIVES
I have been doing much reading lately about the importance of support for church planters. I can not agree more…but, I can not say this is something my wife and I have been practicing, but not by choice.
We started out this plant of ours the “right” way (according to what I have read). We were assessed, mentored and trained. We felt we had the support we needed….then-we didn’t.
Changes came within our supporting ministry and …we found ourselves…alone (or so we felt).
I will not spent any time complaining, because it is disrespectful and not productive, but I will say that I am flattered that God would allow us to do so much alone and without coaching and mentoring, although I would not recommend this.
The Missional Church Planter’s life (even with support) can be a solitude one.
If you are the only new church in town, you are alone in what you are doing, because other leaders have either “done it” already or “wondering why” you are doing what you are doing. It’s not like everyone is planning to do a Christmas message and everyone is planning something similar. The Missional Minister’s role, as respectfully speaking as possible is to reach the people that everyone else….is not. It is our full time job.
Before this ministry was launched, I had a dream. I saw many local churches (represented as sheep and a shepherd) ove the counties. The pastors were looking after their flocks closely to keep them together in one place. Then I saw many more individual sheep scattered throughout the land. I then heard God say to me that these are my sheep and I must go gather them.
I fully understand that this can be an uncomfortable position for even the most mature and confident leader, seeing a new ministry coming into town with all their new ideas.
All I can say about this is that you must love your brothers and sisters as if you were in their shoes…and maybe someday you will be- and pray that some day you will be working together….to do God’s will of trying to reach all.
One of the greatest and immeasurable gifts that God has given THE COMMUNITY MISSION since our start has been a relationship with the local cable television station.
We have been on T.V. since day one, and people know me because they see me on T.V. and not because they have come to our services in person.
I am flattered and blessed that I can reach people weekly. I can honestly say that I was not prepared for this type of recognition and am still surprised as people approach me….but all I can say is Praise God.
Consequently, these shows go directly to YouTube and then I place them on FACEBOOK on the 3 pages that I made. People are able to see me(Bob, Pastor Bob) in a totally different light that from who they may have known in the past or even presently in a different capacity.
I currently work with people in an agency for mentally ill adults. They all know me both as Pastor Bob and…just plain old Bob. This is the first job that I have ever been accepted as a minister so fully.
I love the duality that I have been only able to enjoy because of the fact that people can see me on T.V. throughout the week and then work with me, shop with me or get counseled by me the rest of the week.
I love the Missional church. It is quirky, unpredictable, welcoming, loving, accepting, fickle and ever-changing…just like my wife and myself. Perhaps, you can say, we were made for each other.
Because of the character of the Missional Church, people are invited to be themselves and carve out a “niche” for themselves.
The thing about it I like the most is that because of the makeup, we are able to be the “equals” that I believe God wants us to be in faith.
Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
(2 Peter 1:1-2 ESV)
Here is just an amazing statement in this letter from Peter. “To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours…”
Peter here is talking to all Christians. He is not just saying ‘to all the elite Christians out there’, or ‘to all that have their life together’. He is not just talking to Pastors, ministers and church leaders, but to ‘all who believe in Jesus Christ’. What a statement, that before God we are the same, whether we are a brand new believer or an apostle who was with Jesus from the very beginning of His ministry…. There are no levels to faith, there is no hierarchy in faith – there is simply faith of equal standing.
Your salvation is sure – whether you have just believed in Jesus this minute, or have been a believer for all your life. Your salvation is sure, whether you have been a ‘good person’ all your life or not, providing your faith is in Jesus Christ alone. There is nothing you need more than that faith in Jesus Christ. (To be sure there will be effects of your faith that will show in your life – but you don’t need these external ‘things’ to be saved, or to have a faith of equal standing even with the apostles! So take that today as an encouragement and a challenge. You have been given the same faith, a faith of equal standing with every other Christian, whether still alive or passed away before us, right back to the apostles who spent 3 years personally with Jesus. And know then that no matter what has come before in your life – you can live an effective and fruitful life in Jesus Christ from this minute on, if you will only trust in Him, and believe that He can and will use you right now.
This…is the other reason I love the Missional Church. I believe it gives every person the freedom to be the person that they can truly be.
I know that I have only been doing this for less than a year, but it seems like a lifetime. I can not imagine doing it in any other way. Yes, we have made some mistakes and perhaps we are currently making them, but with God’s grace and Holy Spirit guidance…God has it.
If you have read this guide and have followed the steps successfully, you are now writing your own chapter of this book. You are now a successful church planter and have your own story to tell. Please take into consideration the following in everything you do.
B Be a part of the town you live in
L Love like Jesus did….Live the Gospel in the Real World, Live among the People
E Experience the Power of Living the Gospel
S Share what you have been given
S Share the saving message of the Gospel to every person you can
About Pastor Bob
My name is Pastor Bob Alonge. I am a Canaan, CT resident and formerly a resident of the Berkshires(Western Massachusetts) for 4 previous years.
Before moving to this area, my wife Renata and I, along with our 2 children-Jesse(now 24y.o) and Alicia(now 25y.o.) shared the experience of planting many churches in the Greater Boston, MA area. We have many fond memories of those years, of the friendships, and souls saved.
As the children grew into their teen years, Renata and I found ourselves searching for a deeper relationship with God and we were not finding it in our current church. Our kids were not either. We searched for ways for them to connect and serve but we found no answers and as they left home for college, we found ourselves being called to start a new church.
This last plant was with fellow minister, Dennis Ogbewe in Avon, MA. It was a mostly African congregation but we were family to them. We labored together and applied some of the things we saw that were not working for us in former churches. We involved the youth in worship and trained both young and old to be ministers of the Gospel. It was there that God called me to be a pastor and changed my heart to follow His will. This church (Grace Pasture Christian Center) continues to grow and is seeking yet another building because of its growth.
Then, he called us to Western MA to start all over again.
For 4 years, I was blessed to be an associate minister at Macedonia Baptist Church in Great Barrington, MA. At Macedonia, God had shown me what a loving church should be like. He had also shown me that there are also many needs that the Body of Christ can/should be doing. Living in the corner of 3 states, I saw many of these needs not being met and felt led to plant a church in Canaan, CT. The result was THE COMMUNITY MISSION. You can read about us at: thecommunitymission.webs.com