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Andrew Outreach article 3:24

Craft a Vision for Church Planting

Published by Outreach Magazine | March 4, 2024

“Circle back to me when you have a building.” 

Every church planter has faced this response from a prospective member. When asked to join a church plant, too often Christians can only see challenges and burdens. Excuses can take a variety of forms, but at their core they reflect a culture looking for a church that simply offers comfort and safety. 

Indeed, this is the defining challenge of every church planter: confronting this cultural temptation to spiritual lethargy with a vision of what God can and will do through his church. Where others see burdens and challenges, church planters must be able to lead people to imagine new possibilities of God’s work in their community. 

This challenge has undoubtedly become harder as our culture has become more consumeristic. When Christians are conditioned to view the church as a product or event, planters need to think carefully about how to confront this perception. Central to the tools of an effective church planter is their ability to reclaim the vision of church planting found in Scripture. While planters may be dynamic speakers, industrious workers and organizational leaders, at the core of their success is the ability to inspire people to follow them into the wilderness.

I want to offer three points of guidance for church planters in crafting a vision. 

1. Focus on the unique depth of church planting relationships.

As an insurgent force dedicated to establishing a beachhead for God’s kingdom, church planting forges relationships through a common experience of mission. The unique combination of challenge, dependency, expectation and improvisation necessary to make each Sunday work can draw a planting team together far beyond the normal relationships of established churches. In a culture awash in loneliness and isolation, the prospect of meaningful, kingdom-centered relationships centered on mission is a powerful vision. 

2. Connect the calling of church planting to your witness to family and friends.

Fundamentally an act of faith, church planting defies our cultural draw of consumption and safety in ways that can only point to God’s provision. For Christians looking for ways to teach their children or testify to their neighborhoods, church planting stands as one of the clearest expressions of the faith we profess. 

3. Emphasize the sense of momentum that inherently accompanies church planting.

For all of the challenges church planters encounter, few can deny the excitement and sense of missional momentum that captures a new church. Every Sunday is charged with the unexpected and the urgent. Every new member feels like a kingdom victory. Every leadership meeting can seem like an achievement. As church planting is the missional frontier of the church, this generates both a dependency upon God and a correlative awe at his provision. While established churches face the challenge of generating a sense of mission, church plants have this in surplus. 

At its core, pastors need to help lead people to see that to opt out on church planting is to miss out on the blessing God has for them—a blessing of meaningful relationship, a blessing of a powerful witness of faith, and a blessing of seeing God provide and move through his people.