Welcome to episode 2 of Church Planters Ask! Danny Parmelee is here to answer the question, “I Think I’m Going to Plant a Church, Am I Crazy?”
You’ve heard church planting is a bit crazy: so you’re wondering if you are crazy for considering it.
Well let me tell you… yes. You are.
Joking aside, what I want to do is discuss a couple of aspects of discerning your call to church planting.
God’s call is often first recognized by an internal prompting of the Holy Spirit.
Something inside of you has sparked to the idea that God may be calling you to step out in faith in a huge way.
This internal prompting is often related to external circumstances.
For example, maybe you are part of a church plant and you’ve seen how God has used it in individuals lives or used it to impact the the entire city you live in.
God’s now captured your heart for church planting because of a positive experience.
On the flip side, sometimes God’s call to church planting comes out of what some call a Holy Discontent.
As you look around at the church or churches you’ve been part of, you sense that church could be done differently to reach more people.
Of course, I caution against pride, ego, and bitterness.
I promise you, you don’t want to plant a church if this is your driving motivation.
On the other hand, many planters (myself included) saw that my generation was becoming more and more absent from the church and it burdened me with a passion to innovate the way church was done, without changing the gospel message.
All this to say that I encourage you to examine what is prompting you to consider planting a church.
There are probably multiple things, so sort through each of those and ask God to affirm the good intentions and confess and repent of the sinful motivations.
I promise you, this will not be a onetime process. You likely will be praying these same prayers over and over again, many times, even many years into the church plant.
If you find that your motivation to plant is simply to prove something, to get back at the church that just fired you, or because you think you’re just so much more awesome than everyone else, I beg you: DON’T plant a church.
Being a church planter can be the most amazing experience.
I think that is why many are drawn to it.
But church planting is NOT for the faint of heart.
Take a look at some of these examples in The Bible and you will see what I mean.
If you want to know what the life of a church planter is really like, take the words of the Apostle Paul for example in 2nd Corinthians 11, where he says:
“I have worked much harder,
been in prison more frequently,
been flogged more severely, and
been exposed to death again and again.
Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.
Three times I was beaten with rods,
once I was pelted with stones,
three times I was shipwrecked,
I spent a night and a day in the open sea,
I have been constantly on the move.
I have been in danger from rivers,
in danger from bandits,
in danger from my fellow Jews,
in danger from Gentiles;
in danger in the city,
in danger in the country,
in danger at sea;
and in danger from false believers.
I have labored and toiled and
have often gone without sleep;
I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food;
I have been cold and naked.
Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.
To me, this is the perfect job description for planting a church.
So yea, if you’re NOT asking “Am I crazy for wanting to plant a church?” then you probably really don’t have a good understanding what church planting is all about.
I know he was not a church planter, but my favorite Biblical call to ministry was the prophet Ezekiel.
I was drawn to his call as a young church planter. In Ezekiel chapter 3, you get a glimpse into Ezekiel’s call from God.
What I love so much about his call is that God makes clear that he is called to a people BUT that not all the people will listen, follow, obey.
God doesn’t promise him a “successful” ministry.
Instead God asks him to be faithful to preaching the Word no matter the reaction or result.
Most church planters imagine themselves on stage, preaching to the crowd, people nodding and coming to Christ.
Followers and leaders lining up behind them and their amazing vision…
And YES some of this will happen.
BUT, you will have much more resistance to your message, method, and strategy than you can imagine.
God prepares Ezekiel by saying:
“I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint.” (Ezekiel 3:9)
If you’re the type of person who can’t take criticism, rejection, rebellion, difficult people….
church planting probably isn’t for you.
It may sound like I’m talking you out of church planting.
You’re onto something.
I think that church planting is part of God’s amazing plan for the Gospel to flourish and grow.
I love church planting and love church planters.
I also know if the wrong people try and do it, it can tear apart their lives, other people’s lives, and even discredit Christ and His Church in that community.
This brings me to the next part of discerning Gods call. You shouldn’t rely only on internal promptings.
Proverbs 11:14 says “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.“
It is imperative that your call is affirmed by others.
This is much more than asking your mom if she thinks you are capable.
Or asking your friends if they think you have what it takes.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t ask family and friends: they probably know you best.
But its often hard for those that are closest to you to be objective.
This is why I’m such a huge advocate of formal Assessment centers.
A church planting assessment center is an objective process that looks at how God has gifted and wired you.
Confirming your call to church planting is so important.
Not only remaining in God’s will, but because there are going to be so many times when you will want to give up.
If you’re doing church planting as a job or option or opportunity… its pretty easy to throw in the towel.
But if you know that God has called you to it, it gives you a resolve to navigate through all the hardships you will face.
So, are you crazy for considering church planting? Probably yes. But that’s okay: we serve and amazing God who calls us to crazy things for His name sake.
Remember, if you have a question about church planting, please submit it here. And remember, keep asking those questions!