Recommended Reading: Church Planter

I’ve just finished reading a fantastic book titled ‘Church Planter’ written by Darrin Patrick who pastors ‘The Journey’ in St Louis, Missouri and is a part of the rapidly expanding Acts 29 Network.

The book focuses on the Man, the Message and the Mission of the Church Planter. From the outset it is challenging as it addresses the issue of ‘men only elders’ in the context of the New Testament teaching on the subject (1 Tim 3:1-11 and Titus 1:5-7). This is quite controversial in light of the current liberal trend of interpreting the bible, particularly in western churches. The issue is rooted in how you read the bible, rather than in what is the popular cultural opinion of the day.

The first section is on the Man – The chapters in this part of the book focus on the type of man required to plant and lead a church. Because I have planted a church and continue to pastor the same church, I could identify with both the challenges and requirements of a church planter. At the core a church planter needs to be rescued by Jesus Christ, called by the Holy Spirit, qualified in character, dependent on God, skilled in preaching, pastoring and leading, with a Shepherds heart and determined to never quit.

The second section is on the Message – The preaching of the Gospel in our current culture has been so diluted that much of the original message has been lost to accommodate itching ears, lusting after a self-serving gospel (2 Tim 4:3). Darrin calls us back to the historical, salvation-accomplishing, Christ-centered, Sin-exposing and idol-shattering message of the Gospel.

The third section is on the Mission – As the church is God’s missionary to the world, we need to be on mission contextualizing the gospel in such a way that people can get a living, breathing, authentic encounter with Jesus that will transform their lives. Darrin shares from Mark Driscoll, “Contextualization is not making the gospel relevant, but showing the relevance of the gospel.” (Pg192)

The book summarizes by focusing on Jesus being the Man, the Message and the Mission. Darrin shares,

  1. “Jesus is the Man. The ability for us to change into the men God has called us to be is dependent upon our surrender to the Man who has perfect character. All of what we hope for in the men who lead our churches is found in the perfect life of our Lord.
  2. Jesus is the Message. The power for others to change is rooted in the gospel, which both rescues the sinner and grows the saint. All that we need to know, experience, and proclaim is found in the person and work of Christ.’
  3. Jesus is the Mission. The hope we have for this world to change is rooted in the resurrection, which both empowers the church to live and proclaim the gospel but also previews the to the world how God makes all things new. Our only hope for a broken, jacked up world is restoration, and our only hope for restoration is found in the One who forever conquered the radical effects of sin through his resurrection.” (Pg236)

This is a Christ-exalting, Gospel proclaiming tour de force on the Church Planter and I would encourage any pastor, leader, church planter and potential church planter to read voraciously with an open heart and mind to be shaped by a biblical reflection on one of the most important needs of our time, Church Planting.

Grace!

How Jesus responded to Fame!

Matthew 14:1 “At that time Herod the tetrarch about the fame of Jesus…” Matthew 12:15-16 “Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. And many followed him, and he healed them all and ordered them not to make him known.”

In my devotions this morning I came across these two passages of Scripture and was fascinated by the fact that while Jesus had obvious fame and notoriety in his generation (and still has today) because of his preaching and miracles, he went to great lengths to keep it all under wraps.

Throughout the gospels we read that Jesus was constantly asking his disciples or those to whom he was ministering to not to tell anyone about his ministry, and yet it seemed like Jesus ministry just kept getting bigger. He even had family members telling him to go to Jerusalem and do his works out in the open and not in obscure places, if he wanted to be known… How wrong they were about Jesus motives…

Even though Jesus had many people following his ministry and his name even being heard amongst the elite of the day (King Herod), I’m fascinated that he did all he could to keep a low profile, to enable him to go about the Father’s business in the times and seasons alloted to him.

Jesus lived his life on purpose and if twitter and Facebook had been around, I’m sure he would have avoided boasting of the last great miracle he performed (“Just opened another blind man’s eyes… I had to give him another round of prayer cause his eyesight was still blurry after the first one…” In 70 characters or less).

Jesus responded to the opportunities before him according to his mission from his Father. If being given a platform to more people would extend the mission of the Father, then Jesus would use it accordingly but I don’t read him seeking fame. In fact, he did the opposite, he avoided it.

How Jesus’ example challenges us today? I wish I could say, that all of my motives for social media and ministry have been pure but unfortunately, lurking deep within have been some very prideful and selfish agenda’s. I’ve since repented of them, however, Jesus’ example forces us to re-examine the goals we are aiming for in our lives and what we are seeking after as being worthy of our joy and contentment.

If God’s grace extends to you fame and notoriety, this much I know, it isn’t for you, cause you were never built to handle it. It could only be for the glory of Jesus and the extension of his mission on planet earth. If fame and notoriety doesn’t come your way, rejoice that your name is written down in the book of life and get on with the mission God’s put before you.

Grace!