Church Shopping? How About Planting?

Looking for a new church? I would like to make a suggestion. If you are new to a particular area and are looking for a new church this may not apply to you.

But if you are concerned about: lost souls coming to Christ, you would like to see a different worship time, you want leadership with integrity (or you may want to do some leading yourself) or you are not getting any of this from your current church, here’s a thought: Try starting a church yourself!

Church Planting

This concept is called church planting. I am in no way trying to empower the troublemaker. If you are the source of trouble in a bad way, it doesn’t matter where you go, the problem will follow you. On the other hand, if you know that the church isn’t meeting a legitimate need in your community, and isn’t striving to be biblical to the degree that it can be biblical, then perhaps it’s time to prayerfully consider leaving. My thought though is, instead of going from place to place, perhaps you and a few others can get together a start from the ground up. It is a challenge, but with God all things are possible. It doesn’t take a pastor to start a new church, it takes the Lord and willing people. It doesn’t matter in what part of the United States, or the world for that matter, you are, you can get started anywhere, any time, with prayer.

Food for Thought

Isn’t it time that you looked up and saw the church be what God intended it to be? Are you uncomfortable with a holy-discontent? You want more out of your service? Do you see that the teaching isn’t feeding you?  Do you see the pastor is deadset in the wrong direction, and the church is more interested in satisfying itself, than reaching out? Are you tired of seeing more in-reach (by that term I mean church work) as opposed to the real work of the church? You know what I’m talking about, building up the believers, and reaching the lost. As opposed to a lot of meetings, programs, 40 day campaigns, building campaigns (when the building is already established), and sermons tailored to make you feel guilty about not giving to those things. You can’t afford some of those special events, but your church insists on having them.

Here’s another example: The sermon no longer fits the Bible so the pastor uses more than one translation to get the point across. You see vision statements, mission statements that are similar to what you see in your office at work. You hear talk at some church meetings that sounds no different than the business meetings at work, and you wonder, Where does God fit in all this? Your Sunday morning worship has left the building and is tailored toward the “unchurched” and seeker, and if you are asking yourself, Should I stay or should I go?, it might be time to go.

Prayerfully consider leaving for a good and godly cause. Having done all you can, prayer, fasting, talking with other friends, and maybe even the pastor himself, if you are convinced by the Spirit of God that your time is up, then perhaps it’s time to start a new church instead of trying to find one. Pray about it. Write down what you would like to see, take a step of faith. It doesn’t take a pastor to start a church, just the Lord and a willing heart. This might be your wake up call. If you need some help with this, there’s a lot of info out there. If you are a part of a denomination, many are willing to help. It doesn’t matter. You can start again with the Lord’s help. This might be your wake up call.

Be Aware

There are denominations that do emphasize the church planter having to go through an assessment process. And, to a certain extent, that might be okay. There is a habit of trying to pin point a “call to fill in the blank.” I’m not personally married to a call per se, but rather to qualifications as outlined in the Pastoral Epistles, provided the church planter is going to be a planting pastor. Of course, one doesn’t have to be that, one can plant a church and not pastor it. Even in that capacity, the pastor or non-pastor is essentially a missionary to their prospective community.

Get Biblically Minded

So the church planter’s call is, like all Christians, to evangelize and make disciples (Matt 28:18-20). And, I’m not sure if they still do this, but some church planting organizations are very concerned about the potential church planter’s vision statement and model of church they were going to plant. Supporting churches and denominations need to let the church planter carve out his identity and not copy what an existing church from an alleged best-selling book is doing! We don’t want carbon copies, but rather contextualized originals. Please note, I’m not referencing buildings or doctrine as business models for a church. Nor am I referencing church administration or 501c3 status or Tax ID numbers.

The real help that the church planter needs is spiritual in nature. Church planters need help financially, and in areas of administration, by all means. But, primarily, they need prayer support and godly man (or woman) power. The church planter needs to be evangelistic as opposed to being entrepreneurial in a business sense. They need to focus on the missionary journeys of Paul, not the writing of the so-called best selling stuff in the church growth department. There are some things that have value in a book or two on the issue of church planting, but as the title of a book states it perfectly, Brothers We Are Not Professionals. And this is something we all need to get in our souls.

People Are Needed

The greatest need for a potential church planter is people. That planter needs a mentor if they have never done it before. The type of mentor needed is basically a godly, praying man/woman. I know there those who talk about a person of peace. But in reality the true need is for godly people. Wise people who are compassionate and sensitive to the church planter and, in most cases, the church planter’s family—physically and spiritually. There is a need for evangelistic people, financial people (those that are willing to support the work financially), and people for accountability. Not just to monitor if the church planter is on task or mission with the work, but to ensure they are not sinking spiritually in prayerlessness, or some in sin or making compromises of their convictions.

Also, reality-based people are needed. Those who are real enough to say that failure is a very real possibility. Someone is needed to say, “Here’s the mistake I made,” or “Here’s what the so-called denomination needed to do better.” One thing that is necessary is that the denominational involvement shouldn’t be top heavy. My denomination had a guy that was supposedly the mentor, the sponsoring church pastor, and two other guys over those two. Can’t say that all denominations do this, but in my area they needed to reel in the red tape, and prayerfully support the church planter. Although, to their credit things have vastly improved in church planting in my current area.

So church planting could be an option for the mature Christian as opposed to constantly church shopping. It’s an option, but in some cases, there may be some Christians that need to stay where they are planted.

Donald Hightower
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