by Joel Comiskey, check out, Groups that Thrive
God loves new churches and rejoices when teams venture out to plant churches. Some church planters thrive in a pioneer church planting atmosphere while others find it unsettling. What makes the difference? What characteristics do church planters need to effectively plant churches? In my next two blogs, I’ll talk about essential priorities of effective church planters.
The first priority is to find a group of people committed to pray for the church planter. One of the most important books I’ve ever read is C. Peter Wagner’s Prayer Shield. Wagner shows why intercessory prayer for Christian leaders is needed, as well as how to ask for it. While gathering my own prayer shield, I bought seventy-five copies of this book and handed it out to people who I recruited as prayer warriors. It was well-worth the money spent. Anyone planting a church will benefit from reading this book. Each team member needs to develop a prayer shield and form part of someone else’s prayer shield. The apostle Paul was a prayer recruiter. Paul wrote to the Colossian church, “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” (Colossians 4:3-4).
When a person is called by God, he or she will persist until the task is accomplished. A lack of a true calling by God is why many church planters give up. In my first church plant in an inner city setting, my seminary education had little bearing on my experiences. I remember pleading with Janie (not her real name) to use her welfare checks to buy food for her children rather than drugs for herself. I felt inadequate when I tried to plant a church among people like Janie. Even though I was often felt tossed like the waves of the sea, I could always fall back on the fact that God had called me to plant the church. The Bible was my guidebook. The Spirit kept me going. Paul the apostle did not stray from his heavenly calling to plant churches. His vision to plant churches came about as a result of prayer, fasting, and reading the word. He constantly sought to know where that calling was leading him and in what direction it was taking him.
Agreement between Husband and Wife
Marriage is not a requirement for church planter (e.g., Paul the apostle), but those who are married, must be in agreement. I’ve witnessed several failed church plants when a spouse began to doubt the church planting calling. Jesus told us to count the cost before making a decision to follow Him. Counting the “church planting cost” means that both husband and wife are in one hundred percent agreement before starting the church. Church planting probably will be more demanding and rigorous than ever imagined. Be prepared.