Thoughts on planting
By Bill Egan, Director of Church Planting
At every level of leadership, there are built in barriers that require successful navigation if we are to accomplish our stated goals. This is especially true among church planters. The skill-set required to be successful is multifaceted. Church planters need to be skilled at presenting the gospel in their local context, as well as have the knowledge of gathering or grouping believers together to form a new church. Beyond these two skills, the church planter needs to be concerned about spiritual growth, leadership development, outreach, and the list goes on.
As church planters form new congregations, there is an implied ownership as they shepherd. This is a wonderful character trait that we seek in pastors. This also creates one of the most common barriers to church planting, the releasing of authority. If church planters don’t strategically navigate this common barrier they risk becoming the bottleneck in their own movement.
Paul tells Timothy to entrust to faithful men the keys to the kingdom taught to him, which in turn will do likewise with other faithful believers (2 Tim 2:2). Paul knew that it would take an army of harvesters in order to fulfill the task the Lord called us to. Taking responsibility as a leader is noble as long as the church planter doesn’t become a one-man show. It is essential that the church planter learn this core competency of releasing authority and empowering those he shepherds if multiplication is to be normative.
This seems quite simple at first when you ask the question, “Who can share the Gospel with others?”, or “Who can lead a lost person to faith in Jesus?” Where it becomes problematic is when we ask deeper questions such as, “Who has the authority to baptize?” These are not issues to be taken lightly, and each church planter should think through these issues before planting if at all possible. Partial entrustment is not the same as what Paul spoke of to Timothy. Paul knew the Holy Spirit was a much more capable teacher than he would ever be. His leadership and ongoing mentoring of Timothy and others was nested in the knowledge of God’s Grace being poured out on his church. The “others” could do this because it was the same Spirit and Lord working in and through the body of Christ.
The releasing of authority doesn’t come naturally for most leaders, but the rewards can be phenomenal. Successful church planters realize quickly how understaffed they are in their growing movements. It’s often sheer desperation that forces church planters to graciously and intentionally empower others to serve alongside them. How much more rewarding would it be if this was an intentional aspect of the church planters strategy from the beginning?