Friday, May 23, 2008

You Are Planting a What?

There is a phrase that often perplexes me even though I know what it means, church plant or planting a church. To the religiously minded person a church plant could be one of a variety of ferns or memorial wreaths at the front of a church “sanctuary” and near the “altar”. I am not sure of the purpose of these plants other than to reverse global warming or to provide a hedge to separate the clergy from the laity. Still, they look nice sometimes.

However, “planting a church” brings in even more confusion to the uninitiated. The first absurd image that comes to mind is of a missionary planting little steeples in the ground. If it were only that simply! Don’t we wish that we could go to the local Christian book store and buy a church planting kit? Just add water. I was driving in the States once, and one of my daughters commented on the number of lakes that we saw along the way. I told her that there were so many because there was a sale on lake kits at Wal-Mart. The instructions simply said, “Just add water.” The kit included a shovel. They love and hate my jokes.

So then, how does one “plant a church?” I must admit that there is a lot of pressure on pastors and missionaries to produce the outward product of a dynamic Sunday morning meeting, but this is a sad goal if that is our goal. Our job is to reach the lost and make disciples who can in-turn do the same. These people then reach every aspect of their community so that dramatic changes are seen in families and in nations. The culmination of all this is what we call a healthy church, the fruit of obedience to the Great Commission. This healthy church also happens to meet together a few times during the week.

So many pastors are stressed about keeping up the Sunday morning appearance. It takes so much emotional and physical fuel, and it leaves us somewhat empty, just another job. Let me say something bold yet simple here, we are not called to build churches.
Christ builds His church. We are involved in planting and watering but God causes the increase.

Unless the Lord builds the house,They labor in vain who build it;Unless the Lord guards the city,The watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early,To retire late,To eat the bread of painful labors;For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.
Psalm 127:1,2

Excuse me while I go water our new plant, Kiyevicus Cultivaticus Evangicus. It should bloom soon, but a few more gardeners would be helpful.

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