The following is a post from 2008. I’ve been the Chair of our region’s new church team and I’ve been reminded how often church planters from mainline churches are less willing to step out in faith.
Every so often, when I feel down about myself, I tend to read this article by Bob Hyatt, a church planting pastor. I like reading his short essay because he reminds me that church planting isn’t crazy.
Something that has struck me lately is that planting a church is really an act of faith. Hyatt writes:
Fear? Is it scary? Yes, of course it is. But for me, a turning point was realizing that I had never really done anything in my life that required actual faith. Yes, I had picked up and moved to Europe for two years. Did that require faith? I had a great salary waiting for me, a church community to integrate me, and the knowledge that if it didn’t work out, I could always just find something else to fall back on. Faith? Sort of, but not really.
I came to the point in considering church planting where I realized that I simply didn’t want to get to 70 and look back never having taken an actual step of faith… never having started something, never having begun a journey whose end I could not clearly see from the beginning. I didn’t want the regret of not having taken a shot at a dream of mine.
Finances? Sure- that was a consideration. When we decided to plant the church we had just bought a house and gotten pregnant. I knew that looking back this was either going to seem like a great step of faith or a complete lack of common sense. I suppose the jury is still out on that…
But we had to decide, my wife and I, that if taking this step cost us our house, set us back financially… that simply wasn’t too big a price to pay for God’s kingdom. If we did what we felt we needed to do, and there were financial costs, so be it. We’d rather see people come into relationship with God than have a house. We’d rather see those who have given up on church find community again than have a new car. We had to ask ourselves “What is the absolute worst thing that could happen if we do this?” And when we really started looking at it, it just didn’t seem like that big a deal.
I remember a while back asking someone if they were every interested in planting a church. The person said no, saying something related to the fact that there wasn’t any financial security in it.
I thought about that. Having been part of mainline churches, something that seems to be a big concern is that if so and so is going to start a church, they need a good salary and benefits package.
I’m not saying that pastor and other church leaders should not be paid. What I am saying is that in many cases, we aren’t so willing to take a step of faith, in planting churches and in the funding of church plants and planters.
Having grown up in a evangelical household, what I noticed was how people who were called to ministry were willing to go out and find a job or raise money to fund their calling. These people believed strongly in what God had called them to do and they were willing to step on in faith knowing that God would be with them all the way.
When I was working with Community of Grace, it was near impossible to get churches to fund us. Many of the churches are struggling, dealing with shrinking budgets and shrinking memberships. Such concerns cause the belts to tighten. Some pastors thought new churches were a waste of money and that these resources had to be spent on existing churches.
I think sometimes that we mainline Protestants suffer from a lack of faith. Yes, we say we believe in God, but I think we don’t really trust as much as we like to. Of course, there are probably a lot of evangelicals that are just as untrusting of God as mainliners, it’s just that I have really seen it among mainline churches.
But, what if we had faith that God is at work? What if people were willing to pray for church planters, and support them in anyway they can (not just financially)? What if we had a passion for mission, to share and be Christ with the world, that we were willing to help anyone who had a passion to start a church? What if we just had some faith?