What are some pitfalls of church planting? Dr. Irwyn Ince discusses the New Testament roots of church planting and explains the most common personal hazards faced by church planters.
Church planting is a primary way that we find the Lord fulfilling his promise that he gave in Matthew 16: ‘I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.’ In fact, we can see that church planting has its roots in the New Testament.
The Roots of Church Planting
When Jesus speaks to the apostles after his resurrection and he says, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you. You will receive power to be my witnesses in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria to the ends of the earth,’ what do we find happening? Church planting has its roots in the New Testament and we still follow that today as the way of making disciples as we go out into into the world.We find the church being scattered after the persecution through the death and martyrdom of Stephen. And Philip goes into Samaria and he preaches the gospel of the kingdom and he says the city is filled with joy. And we see Paul in his conversion and his missionary journeys. What is he doing? Making disciples, planting churches throughout the Roman world. And so church planting has its roots in the New Testament and we still follow that today as the way of making disciples as we go out into into the world.
The Power in Church Planting
You know, when it comes to the pitfalls of church planting, let me start with the positive side because, again, taking our cues from what we see in Scripture, the work of church planting, the power behind church planting, is the Holy Spirit, right? The Holy Spirit working through his people, making disciples. And so the pitfalls come when, as a church planter—and I speak from experience—when as a church planter, we think that the success, quote unquote, of my church plant is is based primarily on effective strategy and planning and having the right people in place and the right outreach opportunities. All of those things are important. But if I am not—or we as a church planting team are not—desperately dependent in prayer on the Holy Spirit to show up and do the work, then no matter how many people we have, we can’t call that church plant a success.
The Purpose of Church Planting
If I am not continually seeing the fruit of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit work of sanctification in me as a pastor and leader, then I’m building a kingdom to myself.The second the second pitfall is related to that. It’s that if I think that the work is dependent on my efforts more than it’s dependent on my experience of personal renewal and growth in the gospel myself. If I am not continually growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ as a church planter, if I am not continually seeing the fruit of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit work of sanctification in me as a pastor and leader, then I’m building a kingdom to myself and not one that glorifies the Lord. And so those are those are pitfalls. There are others, but primarily those pitfalls are related to when we take our eyes off of who actually is the power and the purpose in church planting and placing that on ourselves and in certain ways.