At the risk of sounding like an old geezer who is ticked off about modern life, I have a thought for every young planter and probably you old ones, too. It might be time to put down your church planting books, pick up your Bibles and pray.
Don’t get me wrong. I am thrilled with all of the amazing resources available to planters today. It’s awesome. But church planting is first and foremost about knowing and following Jesus deeply, intimately and authentically. Knowing and following him is about 90% of it. Knowing the latest greatest how-tos about planting the next amazing church plant is only about 10%. Really.
In fact, reading the thrilling stories of church planters can be a bit intoxicating. You imagine that what happened to the church planter in the book will happen to you. But in the end it turns out to be an elaborate neighborhood of make believe — a shot of dopamine in your grey matter that makes you feel good until reality hits. Read enough books and you will actually feel like you’ve planted a church. You fancy yourself to be an expert on the subject when you actually just know a bunch of good planting ideas that worked well for someone else.
I know, I know… reading church planting books and learning from effective church planters can be helpful. But starting a new faith community is not a paint-by-numbers game. It is the frontline of spiritual warfare. When motivated by a Kingdom calling, planting a new church is a direct attack on hell. And when all hell breaks loose, knowing the formula for finding the right location to launch big isn’t going to help you much. Knowing Jesus and His Word is what you need when Satan feels big and you feel small.
So read the books, go to the conferences and learn from other planters. Then spend enough time with Jesus to know what he wants you to do. And then do it.