Spiritual Warfare and Church Planting

Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up.

1 Peter 5 (The Message)

I should have known. I’ve been in church-planting ministry more than thirty years. Nonetheless, I have to confess, it snuck up on me. The amount of spiritual warfare around me in the eighteen months of planting Holy Trinity Church in Costa Mesa, CA, has been stunning—and I chose that word carefully. My wife’s breast cancer came roaring back, close friends have had their families fall apart, key leaders have had bewildering medical problems, etc.

In addition to planting HTC, I lead an Anglican church planting movement called Churches For The Sake Of Others. This gives me a front row seat to 40+ other church planters going through similar spiritual pushback.

After umpteen church plants in my life I’ve come to the conclusion that church planting in not rocket science. You don’t have to have graduated at the top of your class. But you better have gotten to work on your soul, your inner life, your character—for these are the fountains from which flow the decisions, words, actions and attitudes of leadership. From there comes our capacity to deal with counter-attack from the Enemy.

A friend reminded me yesterday that John Wimber, my early mentor, used to say something like this:

Everyone wants apostolic power; comparatively few are willing to accept apostolic suffering.

But suffering is our lot. These days, as a new-ish Anglican Bishop, I am grateful for prayers like this (Compline, 1979 Book Of Common Prayer) that I can pray for my colleagues and me every night at bedtime…

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or
weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who
sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless 
the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the 
joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.