Leap of FaithBy Kristen Wisen
April 17, 2020
“Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.’” Matthew 9:36-38 (NASB)
Church planting might be genetic. Apparently, your genetics can tell you if your predisposed to sneezing in sunlight or likely to have celiac disease, and whether or not you can smell asparagus in your system (trying to keep this a G-rating). Today, there’s a gene for everything.
It might be genetic because it runs in my family. It started with my great grandmother, who started a Christian school in Wheaton, Illinois. I know that is not church planting but it didn’t stop there.
My grandfather was an elder at the church that first called Billy Graham to the pastorate.
Later he planted Wheaton Evangelical Free church, and then I was born.
My father was involved in several church plants. We held church in the chapel of a convent until the nuns started asking the priest questions he didn’t want to answer. We also met in a high school and the strangely constructed house of a dog breeder. I’ve attended church in warehouses and community centers, elementary schools, and in my parent’s living room.
When I think back on it, going to a normal church with a spire and sanctuary was actually a strange occurrence for me.
So when my husband decided he was going to plant a church, it really wasn’t shocking. I had married a young man who was in Bible college to be a pastor, who took a 25-year detour in commercial real estate and now he was returning to his first calling.
And I was pumped!
Because church planting runs in my veins and it was time to do it again. Oh, we had planted together in a congregant’s position, but this time it was us.
We were going where no one had ever gone before!
We were making the plans!
We were dreaming the dream!
We were bearing the load!
That’s at least what I thought we were doing but the truth is, many had gone before us. God was actually the One making the plans and bearing the load. We did have dreams, but those quickly faded when I found that I was surrounded by people who had the same question whenever I said we were planting:
Why do we need another church? Don’t we have enough already?
Church planting made all the sense in the world to me but it didn’t make much sense to those around me. They looked around our town and on every corner they saw a church. What made sense to them was to have my husband bring in a good restaurant to our little town—after all, he was in real estate, wasn’t he?
Now let me clarify: we did have affirmation of our calling. We had people who were pushing us to plant, people who wanted to partner with us, people who were building our core team. But the community, the casual friends who I told about the plant—the very people I assumed would be our target audience—were the ones who were shaking their heads and saying we had enough churches in town.
I had to get good at answering this question, and here’s what I came up with:
There are people dying without Jesus.
Everywhere you look there are lost people. The field is not empty and picked over. We’re not even close to reaching all the lost. I look at my small community and most at my local grocery store are not church attenders. And this is even with a church on every corner. The harvest is truly plentiful.
God tells us to pray for harvesters.
As believers, we are all seed-throwers. We are all called to be lights in this dark world, to give the gospel to all soil-types and see what will grow. But there’s more work than we can possibly do and even Jesus knew He needed more shepherds to help with the harvest. More shepherds are not a bad thing. If the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few, more laborers should be welcome.
The gospel is one-size-fits-all but churches aren’t.
We have one message—the good news that Jesus took our punishment so that we could have victory over sin and death. But we have a myriad of personalities and preferences in the body of Christ. As image bearers, this gives us an indication of just how vast our God is! One church doesn’t fit all people, therefore, plant away!
Church planting is a calling
Not all people have the calling to plant. I tease that it may be genetic, but the truth is, my husband married into the family (did I mention my sister and husband have planted a couple of churches, as well?) and he has the call even greater than I do. God has gifted His children with many different callings, and as much as a doctor is called to medicine by God’s gifting, so is church planting. God lays it on your heart and in obedience you follow the call.As you consider the call to church plant, or perhaps you are in the throes of planting, I have one final word for you. Remember, the call to plant doesn’t take a leap of faith. It takes obedience. It’s not your story and it’s not your church. If God called you to do this, then don’t listen to the voices of those who don’t understand your calling. Get out there and build the church!