Church Planting: Counting the Cost (Timbo Fowler)

Church planter, Timbo Fowler, recently shared Aaron G. Loy’s post, Future Church Planters: Count the Cost, and wrote the following on Facebook.

(Warning: this began as a short post…it became a major mind and heart dump about church planting. Read at your own risk).

I was at a church planters conference the other day. It was good. I noticed some planters who had a plan, their wives were in it with them, and they are still about to face all the things in this article. They might make it. There are many variables, and it’s tough with the best of support (and the best of support is very rare).

I saw others, starry eyed, wives not really on board or not even present, with a deep love for the church, but ready to go be an entrepeneur for Jesus. Oh, boy. This is gonna be a rough ride. For these guys: don’t do it. I beg you, thee, thou, y’all, yuns, whoever will listen.

To all I say: count the cost. I am not being negative here. When I started planting years ago, only a fool would do it. Some Pastors would even mock it saying it was for “preachers who couldn’t cut it in a ‘real’ church.” Only a call from God would bring someone to be a church planter for the most part. By the way, many denominations and networks still functionally operate this way, as they recruit ministry novices (because they are cheap) who are set up to fail miserably. The land is littered with the damage of this mindset and its horrific effect on church planters and their families.

But now it’s cool to plant, and there are not a few “wantrepeneurs” who are motivated by some idea of how awesome it will be. It will be awesome, but not how they are thinking. It will kill “you.” Your pride, your self worth found in position, your ego, your “stuff” will all be held to the light and exposed. Jesus thinks that’s awesome, but you won’t find it in our church planting vision statements.

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The Church for Mission vs. the Church for Consumption

The following is an excerpt from my sermon The Church: Myths and Misconceptions (Part 1) delivered at South City Church, 7.30.17.

The Biblical reason we join and are a part of a church isn’t because a particular church offers the “goods and services” we want and like — making the church into something like a business, and us into its customers or consumers. The church is a people, a community. And the reason we join and are a part of this church community is for the sake of advancing our collective Christian mission — together.

When we become consumers, church becomes about “what I get out of it.” And when that happens, what determines “how I chose to do church” (or, as we might say, where I choose to “go to church” — as if church is something you “go to”) is what suits my preferences, what I like, or what meets my perceived needs.

In such a model, the church becomes a place where I come to be served. The pastors and the staff are the ones who do the ministry (rather than everyone). “It’s their job. They’re the ministers,” we say. “My job is to receive and be served.”

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Faithful Church Planting as Plodding (Scott Slayton)

Chuch planting has been in vogue as of late, and at times seems to get sensationalized. But faithful church planting — the type that isn’t aimed at just gathering a crowd by any means possible, or “creating” a church by merely transplanting already-believers from already-heathy-churches, but is about seeing souls saved and joined to churches as healthy members — is probably better described as plodding.

And it’s worth it. Mainstream culture — heck, mainstream Christianity — won’t get it. It flies in the face of American values of consumerism and pragmatism, a value-system that the American church seems to have embodied in what is probably best described as syncretism. But, luckily, faithfulness to Christ isn’t measured by other people’s perception of how odd, crazy, or unconventional your approach may seem.

[F]or us to plant the kinds of churches we need to plant the men who feel called to planting must change their expectations and their definition of ‘success.’ … When numerical success becomes the primary benchmark for evaluating the success of a church, a man will sacrifice his principles and build his ministry on all the wrong things to achieve his goal. Churches built on hype, great music, and a charismatic personality may reach some people who do not know Jesus, but it will mainly pull Christians from other churches. We don’t need more churches characterized by this mentality; we need thousands less.

… The task of planting churches who are faithful to share the Gospel, make disciples, and plant more church calls for an army of men who are content with no one knowing their names except the people in their community and those whom they shepherd. … We need the man willing to work in obscurity because the real task of church planting is not easy or glamorous. At the same time the task is worth every ounce of effort. – Scott Slayton

Read the entire article here — Why We Need Anonymous, Plodding Church Planters.