Our church plant is now in its 8th year. Debbie and I stepped out to plant C3 Subang (now known as Destiny C3) in 2011 with a team of 9 others. The church has since developed into a group of 7 churches catering to the different communities in Malaysia, India and the Philippines. We also run a UNHCR recognized refugee school which to-date is committed to the education of approximately 80 refugee children from nations that include, Pakistan, Syria, Bangladesh and India.
The church planting journey for us began with a lot of apprehension. Was this the right step? Do we have what it takes? Who are we called to? What if we failed? Is this really what God wants for us? We had, as most church planters would, lots of questions… questions that we wrestled with even as we were being drawn by the call.
The questions you ask yourself as you go on this journey can be life altering. The wrong type of questions can derail your journey, while the right questions can clear a path for you.
There are many questions that we asked ourselves on our church plant journey and below are 3 important ones that every potential church planter should ask themselves.
Am I called to this?
Church planting is not just a nice idea or a noble choice of profession. It is a call. Be certain of your calling, because it will form the foundation of your church plant journey. It will be the fuel in your tank that will keep you going regardless of the challenges that come your way. Many people in ministry quit during tough times because they start to doubt their call. We can start to believe that the presence of a roadblock indicates the absence of a call, “maybe I’m not called to this”, “maybe I was wrong”, and before you know it, we are daydreaming about exit strategies.
As Debbie and I began this journey, we had to be certain that we were called to this, and our certainty of the call is what drove us to push through some of the most challenging circumstances that would have otherwise derailed our journey.
When you view your challenges through the certainty of your calling, you see roadblocks not as something to stop you, but something that you are meant to push through.
You view the challenges as necessary inconveniences that you are called to work through that will serve to bring you closer to your destiny. We stay the path not because it is easy, we stay the path because we are certain that we are called by God to be here.
Whose church is this anyway?
Many times, we can, either consciously or unconsciously, view the church plant as our project and God as the external consultant that we reach out to – to endorse our ideas, approve our decisions or help us through the difficult stages of the building. This mind-set often sees us carrying burdens that we were never meant to carry, trying to build by our own strength, which brings us unnecessary stress.
Whose idea was this in the first place? This is God’s idea, His project, His Church and He chose you to be a part of it. This church was birthed in God’s heart long before you even knew what a church plant was. Wasn’t it Him who said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it”? Don’t the scriptures say that unless the Lord builds the house we labour in vain?
This is a fundamental truth of church planting, yet it is a truth that we many times lose sight of. We get caught up with the “business” of church planting. We tend to push God into a consulting role rather that seeing him as the chief architect and master builder.
He invited you to be a part of HIS church plant, and whenever we forget that, we end up dealing with frustrations and anxieties that can lead to burn out.
Whenever I find myself stressing more than usual, it’s always because I’ve taken the burden off God and started carrying it myself. I’ve made it about me, my success, my project, my church, and that was never God’s intention. I ask myself, whose church is this in the first place?
Remind yourself often, that this is God’s project, His church plant, and He is the master-builder. Cast all your burdens upon Him.
What’s unique about my calling?
Since everyone is unique, there will be a uniqueness about your calling. You may start off looking like another church, but there will be a look, a feel that is uniquely yours. Each of us are given different “talents”. God delights in the multiplication of the talents but the means through which that multiplication comes may differ from church to church, community to community, nation to nation. What’s unique about the community that God put you amongst? Unity may not necessarily equate to uniformity.
One of the great dangers of church planting surfaces when we are focused on trying to duplicate the calling of another.
Yes there is much that we can learn from others, there may be strategies and ideas that we can get and apply from other churches, but we must be faithful to the uniqueness of our calling, that’s where we will find our greatest breakthroughs.
In the midst of our church planting zeal and eagerness to learn from and emulate the successful ministries of others, we had to stop to notice what God was doing in our midst, the kind of people that He was sending our way, the doors that He was opening, especially the unexpected ones. Sometimes we can look for what we want God to do and miss out on what God is doing.
When we stopped to ask ourselves what was unique about what God was doing in our ministry, we started to see doors open for ministry that we never had considered before.
So there they are: three questions for the church planter. There are many more, but these are at the top of my list and I trust will be in yours as well.