So we’ve decided to pursue another church planting. How do we actually do that? And how do we do that responsibly…not by the seat of our pants. There are all kinds of questions that need answering. Where do we go? How will we be funded? Who will we plant with? And more like those. But how do we begin to even ask those questions? What values shape the way we approach these church planting questions? The Mission Alive Theology and Strategy labs have helped me develop a rule of life that is helping me approach these church planting questions in a responsible and intentional way.
The rule of life we have developed is simply this – Trust God and live on mission together. When you break it down, there are three parts to this phrase. The first is “trust God,” the second is “live on mission,” and the third is “together.” We try to live these values into any situation or decision in life, including and especially church planting. So in any situation we are asking ourselves, “how are we or should we be trusting God?” “What does this have to do with God’s mission in the world and how can we join him in that?” and “How are we/should we be including others into this?”
To give an example of how this rule of life actually works, let’s look at the first church planting question we have really been pressing into. That question is “Who will we plant with?” It is a teammate/co-worker question. We have started with this question because of our last experience with Sunrise. Amy and I felt like we were carrying a lot of the burden of that church. Even though we were working with some wonderful people who loved the Lord, we felt alone as the people who were responsible for the church. We want to share that load, that responsibility, with teammates. So we are asking, “who will be our co-workers to share with us in this task?”
So, how do we trust God in looking for teammates to work with us in this? I started by praying and listening to God. I might have some great ideas and understand something about working relationships but God is smarter than me and can see a much bigger picture to the purposes of this church plant than me. I have to trust that God is at work in putting together my church planting team and I need to make myself available to hear his voice should he choose to lead me in a direction that I would not anticipate. As of yet, I have not heard God with any specificity in this. However, that doesn’t mean that I just forge ahead. I am having conversations with others. I am dreaming with potential teammates. But I am trusting God to bring us together. I am not trying to force it or make my own way. If it is of God then He will make it happen.
What does searching for potential teammates have to do with living on mission? For one, since we are asking others to join us in living on mission, we need to spend some considerable time fleshing out what that really means. What is it that God is up to in a general sense? Are we both clear on the implications of that and are we willing to partner together in it. This means we spend the necessary time to determine if we are on the same page and have enough in common with our understanding of the mission of God and church planting to commit to this partnership.
How do we participate in the discernment of church planting teammates together? First, we are not just going to ask someone to join us that think would be a good fit. The approach we have taken is to ask potential teammates to spend a season praying and listening to God with us. We want them to discern the answer to this question with them. Again, if God is in the middle of this, then I can see great benefits to having all of us sense God’s hand in this, rather than asking people to just take my word for it. We are also letting other people help us as well, people who know about putting teams together and who have already walked through the challenges of discerning teammates for ministry.
So, here we go. Trusting God and living on mission together. I’m excited about it! Would you like to join us?