By Mike Ruhl | December 15, 2016
As we stand on the threshold of the New Year 2017, some of us find ourselves poised to repeat many of the same resolutions that were made last year – and perhaps multiple years before that. The bathroom scales read the same. The exercise routine remains neatly diagrammed in an electronic notebook. The amount of quality time with spouses, children and grandchildren has barely inched forward. And sometimes even our resolutions to deepen our discipleship and engagement in Missio Dei end up in a standstill as well.
It seems that no matter how passionately or carefully a resolution or project is planned, some delay-stimulating dynamic will prevent the realization of those life-changing hopes and dreams. ‘The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry’ we say, quoting a line in To a Mouse by Scottish poet Robert Burns.
Why this all-too-common lack of progress and forward movement in following-through with things that matter? Particularly in ‘dropping the ball’ in fulfilling the spiritual resolutions which pertain to the Kingdom of God, Jesus offered these sobering words in Luke 9:60 and 62 – spoken to a man who struggled with following-through on Kingdom resolutions: (60) Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God … (62) No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.
There are many LCMS congregations, mission leaders and pastors who have taken the ‘first step’ of receiving formal training in the ‘best practices’ of birthing a new church (church planting). Those churches have prayed about new church reproduction, gathered knowledge and insights into the ‘why and how’ of new church reproduction, and even discerned a specific community and cultural group to reach through their ‘resolution’ of new church reproduction.
Those thingsin themselves are several of the marks of a courageous congregation which has grasped the Jesus’ mission-vision of Acts 1:8 … But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem (locally), and in all Judea (regionally) and Samaria (cross culturally), and to the ends of the earth (globally). And now those same courageous congregations are encouraged and admonished to go ahead and take some of ‘the next steps’ in realizing the dream-like resolution of birthing a new church.
Below are some suggestions of ‘next steps’ which already trained congregations can take:
1. INTENTIONAL ‘LISTENING PRAYER’
Engage all church staff and ministry leaders in intentional prayer to affirm and confirm the call of God to corporate church planting ministry.
2. DEVELOP AND DETAIL YOUR STRATEGIC INVOLVEMENT PLAN
Build on the preliminary training you have received by contextualizing church planting ‘best practices’ into your unique congregation culture and the unique culture of the mission field you have identified.
3. MAKE APPOINTMENTS
Spend quality time with key leaders in your church to share the dream of birthing a new congregation and strengthen the ownership of that dream
4. MISSION LEADER GROWTH
Place into the hands of your key leaders quality church planting literature – perhaps Planting Missional Churches – Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply by Ed Stetzer and Daniel Im.
Make the confident corporate decision to birth a new church or churches. Formalize corporate commitment to follow-through and realization of the dream.
Contract a certified Mission Coach to guide your congregation and your church planter in planting the new church.
7. CELEBRATE WINS
Communicate, celebrate and give thanks to God for each surging step forward in the planting of the new church.
It is our distinct delight and pleasure to give thanks to the Lord of the Church for the hundreds of congregations which have taken the ‘first step’ toward new church reproduction by investing in training and research for ‘best practices’ in birthing new churches. And it continues to be our delight and pleasure to pray for the courage of these same congregations to take ‘the next steps’ in birthing that new Gospel Lighthouse – all in support of the advancing Kingdom of God.
Questions for Discussion
1. What factors and attitudes contribute to congregational ‘dropping the ball’ or delaying significant mission opportunities and callings?
2. What Gospel-based resources has Almighty God already provided to bless and encourage your ministry to move forward with ‘Gospel imperatives and opportunities’ (church planting) in your community?
3. How can your District, Synod and Mission-Training Movements provide meaningful assistance for your congregation to pursue and follow-through on your dream of birthing a new church or churches?
4. Which of the seven suggested ‘next steps’ could energize and empower your congregational resolve to engage in a ministry of new church development?
Resources You Can Use
1. Book: Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply (Second Edition) by Ed Stetzer and Daniel Im, B&H Academic, Nashville, 2016.
2. Book: More Than Multisite – Inside Today’s Methods and Models for Launching New Congregations by the Barna Group, 2016.
3. The Akrasia Effect: Why We Don’t Follow Through on What We Set out to Do and What to Do About It by James Clear
4. Website Article: Five Reasons Churches Don’t Get Involved in Church Planting.
Mission Moments is the e-newsletter sent by the Center for U.S. Missions to bring information and encouragement to all who desire to share God's great love in Jesus Christ with others. Permission is given to copy this article for distribution within your congregation or organization. Please credit the author and the Center for United States Missions. For more information contact the Center at (952)-221-0362, or visit our website: www.c4usm.org
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