Answering Friends #3 // Church Planting Math

When I recently asked my friends to “ask me anything,” one of my close friends jokingly asked, “what’s 2+2?”

Strangely, that was a really relevant question.

No, not in the sense of 2+2=4, but in the sense that assumed realities are often found to be untrue in church planting.

In fact, I would encourage the ambitious church planter to seek to forget their pre-conceived ideas about church. No, I’m not encouraging innovation, rather I’m encouraging you to center your thoughts on New Testament “missional” application.

Make no mistake, church planting is a faith-work and it will require faith if you plan to execute that mission biblically.  I encourage you to think down this path because much of the church planting literature that is available is primarily filled with marketing methods.

Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

What do you do that actually requires faith? Every aspect of Christian existence does, but is that your present personal reality?

Never forget that in New Testament mission we don’t grow by maintaining control, we grow by decentralizing and mobilizing the mission.

The powerful work of the Holy Spirit in other believers’ lives is more than enough.

Never forget that in gospel math we multiply by dividing!

Disciples, teams, and churches are intended to be reproducing organisms. Healthy disciples make disciples, healthy mission and ministry teams work themselves out of a job, and healthy churches plant new churches.

Never forget that the sum total of your resources will never be enough to plant ONE truly gospel-centered church.

You can’t plan enough, you can’t raise enough money, and you certainly can’t create a powerful enough marketing campaign. Yes, you can use those things to gather a group of people and even begin a culturally Christian church, but you can’t create a movement of gospel-driven, disciple-making, church planting missionaries, not on your own. You must be consumed with the one resource that truly matters; his name is the Holy Spirit.

In the end, church planting happens the same way gospel conversion takes place—we see that what we have is simply not enough, and we learn to fall heavy on Jesus who carries us in His mission.

So the common church planter questions like: “what church model are you using?” are insufficient questions.

No, you shouldn’t plan to start a church that “looks” like the church that you came from. Rather, ask the question “to whom has God sent us?” Ask the question “how has God equipped our family, team, or faith-family with His Spirit-filled gifts?”  Ask the question “how does what I see in the New Testament apply to my city and these people?” Above all, ask “how is God directing us today?” Our churches should never cut, copy, paste; they must give birth!

There are core New Testament principles of disciple making and church planting that can be applied anywhere in the world—these should be our starting place.

What does church planting math look like, you ask? It’s certainly not 2+2=4; it is at least 2+2=8 but why stop there?


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