by Byron Pellecer, Associate Conference Minister, Texas-Based
What is the first thing you do when you plant a church?
Allow me to share a quick snapshot about church planting in relation to the personal and factual questions at hand. Therefore, I will approach it from my personal experience.
The immediate response is that it all starts with prayer, a loving and caring heart and willingness to be led by the Holy Spirit. I think, for the most part, that prayer, heart and the Holy Spirit’s power will shape both the church planter and church plant’s theological identity.
Prayer is crucial for church planting ministry to reach out and serve, to receive and to give the gifts from above (John 3:27). In addition, I also share that I gather a prayer team to intercede for this ministry. And then, I develop a structure of constant communication with this group of people.
This team is in charge to “prepare the way of the Lord and to make his path straight.”
Together, we cry out to the Lord for “open doors” to connect and build relationships in the community, to join and see how God is at work and how the Spirit is moving.
A loving and caring heart, in a Christ like manner, is essential. Jesus was always moved to compassion out of genuine love for the people around him. Church planting itself is a good place to reach out to the lost and the broken-hearted, the needy and those with abundance, the religious and the unchurched, and so on (Matthew 9:35-38).
Besides all assessments, planning and strategizing, the leadership and anointing of the Holy Spirit is paramount to any method, geography, demographics, and financial component (Acts 1:8).
Among the many things that I enjoy in life, sharing about church planting is one of them. Every time that I have the opportunity, to share that I have been involved in church planting ministry, this question of “What is the first thing you do when you plant a church?” has been prompted very often. I should say that I enjoy sharing about it because I could be talking to a potential church planter or to a congregation that has been discerning how to respond to God’s activity in their community that may signal an emerging group.
On one hand, I must add that the context about sharing church planting, for the most part, is with individuals that have never been in church-planting ministry or with individuals that somehow are going through a discernment process of responding to this call.
On the other hand, I try to meet, as often as possible, with other fellow church planters to hear and learn what the Spirit is leading them to do in their respective communities. Sharing resources through these gatherings and conversations allows me to undergo my own discernment process and test their practices in my own context. This learning experience is very invigorating.
Perhaps, the intention of the initial question was more of an invitation to share if there is “a method” that warranties “success” in church planting. My answer is this, unless one prays, has a heart for it and is open and willing to follow the invitation of the Holy Spirit to join God’s mission in a giving context, no method will “guarantee any success.” After all, one needs to define “success.” Perhaps and in part, success can be defined and measure not only by the number of attendees and baptized but more importantly, by the lives that are going to be touched (witnessing) by Christ through church planting ministry.