by Joel Comiskey
Most church planters are pragmatic. They want to know what will work. Immediately. Most are fascinated by techniques that promise quick growth. But we need to remember that only God can give lasting fruit in church planting. Paul the apostle said at the end of his life from a prison in Rome:
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone (Colossians 4:2-4).
The only church worth planting is the one that God himself brings to life. And such a plant requires prayer at its very foundation—the root level. Only God can break down the cultural resistance to New Testament Christianity. A church cannot survive without prayer. Norman Dowe, an experienced church planter, writes:
I have failed at planting a church twice. My first reaction is to blame my lack of giftedness on my failure. I am a pastor/teacher not an evangelist, nor an apostle. After my last fiasco, the Lord took me to Zech. 4:6 in the context of Jerubbabel rebuilding the temple. I failed not because of my gift but because of my reliance on my experience, training, and reading. I failed because I did not rely on the Spirit. I am no longer infatuated with structures but am trying to replace that with true spirituality. I read once that Cho was asked the secret to his success. He said, “I pray and obey.”
God is raising up a multitude of church planters who “pray and obey.” They are declaring, “We won’t even go on unless you are leading, oh God.”
When Rob Campbell planted Cypress Creek Church in Wimberley, Texas, he made prayer his first priority. He not only exemplified prayer but hired Cecilia Belvin, the pastor of prayer, as the first staff person. Today Cypress Creek Church has one of the most vital prayer ministries in existence. God has blessed this church abundantly because they’ve placed Him first.
Above everything else, church planting is a spiritual battle. Satan and his demonic hordes laugh at powerless, prayerless churches. These same dark forces become extremely worried when churches commit to fervent and effectual prayer.
I recommend that a church planter first call together a group of intercessors to pray for God’s guidance and blessing every step of the way. Then gather others in the church to pray for every detail of the church’s life. Continue praying throughout the entire church planting project. Scripture says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1).
Prayer is the key to church planting. It is the basis for everything that takes place. The church plant starts and continues with prayer.