Planting Church

Church Growth, Church Planting, Church Leadership, Church ____________ (fill in the blank)

In all of these titles, there is a common word which fits them in the same arena: church.  Yet the church in all these titles is descriptive or attributive. Church is penultimate. Growth is ultimate. Planting is ultimate. Leadership is ultimate.

I don’t swim in the sea of literature pertaining to church growth or church leadership that much, but I have committed myself to learning as much as I can to be useful in the work of planting churches.  And while I know that people are not always conscious of what they are meaning when they use the words “church planting,” I have recently come under conviction that the church is often treated as an assumption to planting.  What concerns me in particular is how so often the planting (process) and the planter (leader) are the foci rather than the thing planted (the church).  To phrase it in a question, are the planters and the planting serving the church or vice-versa?

Regarding the planting, I often hear talk about methodologies, best practices, strategies and field-tested pragmatism.  These are not necessarily bad, but it seems that the church becomes a laboratory for mad scientists such that fail-proof planting can be almost guaranteed with or without God.  I know that sounds harsh, but how much literature, how many conferences, and how many conversations around church planting center more on “planting” than “church”?  Could the same be said regarding the planter? I recognize the huge importance of assessment, qualifications, experience, etc, but among the fraternity of church planters, there is culture created that could unintentionally focus on personality, charisma, and being cultured (or cool). The church planting experience can easily glorify the process and glamorize the personality so that it is who is leading and what they are doing that gets the attention, not what is being created.

Perhaps my concerns are unwarranted (and if they are, then will readily own them as such), but I cannot help but think that there is a real temptation for the church to take a back seat to planting.  After all, it is church planting. We have phrased the practice to emphasis us, our practice, and not the church.  Yet, in the mind of God, the church is ultimate, not us.  The planter and the planting are instrumental and dispensable; the planted is ontological and eternal.   It is for the church that Christ gave Himself (Eph. 5:25) and the primary theater where His glory is to be seen (Eph. 3:21).  According to the eternal purposes of God, the church unveils the manifold wisdom of God to rulers and authorities in heavenly places (Eph. 3:10-11).  And what we know about the church is that Jesus Christ is the supreme planter who, by His Word and through His Spirit, begets kingdom communities where His reign will have no end.

I love church planters.  I am loving the process of planting churches.  My concerns lay around the danger church planters face in relation to where we find themselves regarding Christ and His church.  We can be investing our lives into church planting which, apart from Christ’s supremacy, would be idolatry.  We should continually remind one another that we exist to serve Christ’s eternal purposes through His church that He is committed to building.  We labor as servants with the good seed of the gospel because He will bring the increase.  In essence, we are joining Jesus in planting church, not church planting.  With that in mind, we will continually remind ourselves that it is not about personalities, programming but a people Christ is forming together who God will use to make Himself known to those on earth as well as those in heaven.

Consider this short clip from Piper on the nature of church planting:

Advertisements
Explore posts in the same categories: Church Planting, Ecclesiology, Personal Commentary

Tags: ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

6 Comments on “Planting Church”

  1. Joanie Regnier Says:

    I appreciate what you have said in this article. And appreciate what Piper has to say as well. I echo what you said: “We should continually remind one another that we exist to serve Christ’s eternal purposes through His church that He is committed to building. We labor as servants with the good seed of the gospel because He will bring the increase. In essence, we are joining Jesus in planting church, not church planting. With that in mind, we will continually remind ourselves that it is not about personalities, programming but a people Christ is forming together who God will use to make Himself known to those on earth as well as those in heaven.”

  2. Randy Alston Says:

    Thanks bro. Good word.

  3. Keith Walters Says:

    Timmy,
    Great post, I share many of your sentiments. I think that in many ways the church planting movement (CPM) is headed in the same direction that the church growth movement (CGM) headed in the 1970’s and is in danger of becoming another scientific numbers game. For all effective purposes the CGM died once it was severed from its missional roots and lost its missiological concern. The CGM was founded upon Donald McGavran’s missionary work in India as he was influenced by men such as Roland Allen and their original concern for multiplying churches among the nations rather than growing megachurches in the US. Once the CGM was severed from its theological, missiological, and anthropological roots the movement became a statistician’s numbers game and methodology became the servant of statistics rather than a servant of theology. I see a similar tendency as the market has become increasingly saturated with works on church planting; most of which have effectively severed the methodology of planting from its theological and missiological roots. This is dangerously pragmatic and the newfound interest in a very helpful subject risks extinction, or simply irrelevance, if such pragmatism continues to rule the day. I hope and pray that we may see profoundly theological church planting works written in the near future, but to this day I have found few that satisfy in this area.

  4. Heath Lloyd Says:

    Thanks Tim for this post, and the courage to post it. I get apprehensive when the method becomes the message. It scares me to think that God is being left out of man’s equation in planting. I also resonate with your views that the planter is expected to be “cultured” (i.e. cool). But I believe it was Paul who said that the planter is “nothing” (1 Cor 3:7).

    May He build His church, His way, to His glory.

  5. Jackie G. Says:

    Tim
    Thanks for your post your blog and through it finding Founders Ministries has been a timely blessing in my husband and I’s life. We are finding ourselves to be people who identify with the reformed tradition without a reformed church in our community. We are in the process of actively pursuing getting a reformed church in our community as the Lord wills. I don’t suppose the thought of planting a church in NE Nevada where the temperature was -8 this morning at 5:48 AM appeals to anyone in FL? 🙂

  6. churchoutreach Says:

    A really wonderful and inspiring post! The church really helps us plant somethign in our spirits.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: