In my last post, I mentioned the unexpected nature of my decision to enter into church-planting. Here are five reasons why I wrote off church-planting:
1. I did not grow up in a church-planting culture. As a child, there was zero talk about starting new congregations. Thus, before I really committed my life to Christ at the age of 18, I had no clue what church-planting even was. This left me believing that church planting was not something done in America anymore, and created an unspoken hesitancy in my heart to pursuing it.
2. I saw unhealthy church plants. After I became a believer in college, I saw and heard about several forms of unhealthy church plants. I knew one friend who planted a church without the support, oversight, or approval of another church or organization. In his own words, he thought he was the “Mark Driscoll of Las Vegas”. Unfortunately, this plant did not last. Another example I saw was a gimmicky church plant launched in a trendy location (cool bar on the strip). This plant had good intentions: reach a segment of our city not being reached (young adults). But its preaching lacked the gospel or much of any discussion about sin and repentance. This plant also died. A third example I saw was what appeared to be a very healthy plant, but after a short period of time the lead pastor committed adultery and the church died. These situations left a bad taste in mouth for church planting.
3. ‘Lone-ranger’ ministry men—those who attempt to start a ministry based on an inward impulse without the oversight or assessment of others—caused me to be overly skeptical of any of my own impulses/desires to plant a church. While God uses some of these individuals to do great ministries, He also delights in Christians working in unity together to accomplish ministry tasks (Ps 133). Thus, it comes down to heart motives. I saw one individual who was convinced that God was calling him into a ministry geared toward reaching those of my generation skeptical of the ‘overly institutionalized church.’ His mantra was, “Don’t go to church, be the church!” (why not do both?). While his zealous passion, hopeful vision, and charismatic personality won many to his cause, the ministry paradigm was short-sighted and harmful. The results were fleeting and resulted in many Christians leaving local congregations to join a movement without qualified leaders, pastors, or long-term vision for making disciples or exercising church discipline.
4. Church-planting is trendy. If you are around the type of Christians I hang out with—Evangelical, Calvinistic, Youngish—you know that church-planting is trendy at the moment. I have always been skeptical of trends, and thus overlooked church-planting because of its present popularity.
5. I bought into the argument “Why plant new churches, when there are lots of churches already (many of which need a pastor now)?” I did not understand the mentality of starting a new church. I assumed we have enough churches in America already, and that a new church would merely shift people from established churches into new church plants.
So these are the main reasons I overlooked church-planting. In my next post I will consider how I addressed and overcame these objections (found here).