For ten years–an entire decade–I've considered myself a church planter. I planted a church in VA back in '01. We replanted the church in '02. We reconfigured the church and thus re-replanted the church in '07, except we planted a network of two churches that quickly expanded to three. I've talked about church planting. I've posted about church planting. I've passionately discussed and debated church planting for nearly one-third of my life. Now, at the end of that decade, I think I've come to a conclusion that changes absolutely everything. It will change how I view myself. It will change how I view the church. It will change how I approach life and deal with people.
I'm no longer a church planter.
To those of you who've read this blog for awhile, it's no secret that I've become very uncomfortable with the way many churches are planted in our country and culture. I'm very uncomfortable with it both from a practical and a biblical point-of-view. Practically, it takes so much money, time, effort and "scaffolding" to hold up a traditionally planted church and it's structure. It also is very tough to both replicate and multiply such a structure. I almost think its impossible to do so. Biblically speaking, the command to plant church is not found anywhere. We've simply assumed it to be true. We've equated making disciples with planting churches. I now believe that's totally backwards. We're not to plant churches in order to make disciples. We make disciples, which result in churches sprouting and taking root.
Even so, I considered myself a church planter until very, very recently. I read a post my wonderful wife wrote last week. In it, she stated, "…God moved us away from church planting." I was taken aback at first. Then I thought about it. She was right (as usual).
I still think my gifts are in the apostolic/evangelistic (i.e. I start new things). My hospice job, however, has revealed to me that I've got a lot of pastoral gifting in me that I never knew I had. The last year has been very interesting, to say the least.
It is my goal to point people to Jesus and help them to follow him, and then help them to help others do the same. If that happens, churches will sprout. More disciples will be made. More churches will sprout. Leaders will emerge. God will move. The kingdom will invade the darkness of this world. Jesus will be glorified.
I'm not a church planter.
I'm a disciple maker.
This really changes everything.