Preparing the Soil: Church Planting
The fall harvest is done and farmers are gearing up for the cold Minnesota winter. It might feel out of place to talk about planting this time of year, but it is never a bad time to prepare the soil.
God is preparing the soil at First Evangelical Free Church for a new season of church planting. As God has moved in the hearts of the congregation through his Word and prayer, we are starting to ponder why God would call us to plant new churches.
Why do we plant churches?
For God’s Glory
God is the ultimate motive for starting new churches! The glory of God is what we are zealous for first and foremost, meaning that we seek to bring the honor and fame due to the majesty of Jesus Christ.
In our prayers we pray that our Father in heaven would be hallowed (Matthew 6:9). Think perfection or purity. Our Christian life is welded to the call to honor the name of Christ as holy.
We plant churches because we desire the earth to be “filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14). We want to saturate this world with the glory of God.
God also gets the glory because he is the one doing the work of church planting. God plants churches; we simply follow his leading and join in the work.
For God’s Kingdom
We pray that God’s name be hallowed, but we also pray that his kingdom come (Matthew 6:10). We want to see the kingdom of God come to our city! We want to see God’s rule be on earth as it is in heaven.
God defines his kingdom and guides it. As believers we are simply subjects in his kingdom. God must reign until he puts all his enemies under his feet (1 Corinthians 15:25). Our King Jesus calls us to be his ambassadors to this world (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
Every year more than 3,500 churches close their doors permanently. We are motivated to create healthy churches for God’s appeal to be made known to our city.
We plant churches because we believe the Kingdom of God is growing. We start new churches for those in the city who already have the Kingdom and for those who we pray will one day belong to the reign of God.
For our Neighborhoods
My wife and I recently rescued our dog Copper. We needed a new vacuum to keep up with his careless shedding, so we got the new pet variety vacuum. The box says that they donate $10 to their pet foundation with the mission to find a home for every pet. This is very ambitious… and struck me as seemingly transient in its impact.
This got me thinking—If my vacuum company can have such a motivated goal,what kind of aims do we have or does God have? Just as my vacuum company is interested in rescuing orphaned pets so is our God in rescuing his lost sheep.
Our God has the same mission: The Lord says that he will bring his sons from afar and daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by his name, whom he created for his glory, whom he formed and made. (Isaiah 43:6b–7)
We plant churches because it is one of the primary ways God rescues his lost children.
“Planting new churches is the most effective evangelistic methodology known under heaven.” (C. Peter Wagner)
Our passion for the eternal welfare of our city moves us to plant churches to grow the whole body of God in our neighborhoods.
Our church is a church planting church. At least we used to be. Since we started in 1887 we have planted Lakewood Free Church (now Rockpoint) in White Bear Lake, Hope Free Church in Oakdale, Cross Cultural Free Church in St. Paul, Stillwater Free Church, and Hugo Free Church. These churches have impacted the east side of the metro for generations. Even these churches have planted churches.
One of the reasons we plant churches is because we stand on the shoulders of those who have faithfully followed the call to impact our city with new Gospel-proclaiming churches.
God has used First Free in the past to help produce faithful churches and he is working again to continue this legacy. Let’s be a church planting church again!
It is not easy to church plant. It is not “fun” to church plant. Church planting brings challenges to us as the older church.
These challenges are a gift to help evaluate ourselves in substantial ways. To see a new church thrive can convict and motivate an older church to faithfulness in areas of evangelism, congregational care, and leadership development.
Sending out leaders to serve the men, women and children of the new church will challenge them to step up in their new roles and task the older congregation to step up into the voids those leaders leave. It creates a call for new worship leaders, elders, women’s ministry teachers, custodians, accountants, administrators, designers, engineers, and many more that God uses in our older church.
Why plant new churches? We have a vision of the glory of God, for our neighborhoods, and for ourselves.
Would you join us in this season of soil preparation? Would you pray and open your Bibles with an eye open to what God calls his church to do?
There are many more reasons to church plant that we could discuss if you would like. If you are interested in reading more, see Pastor Tim Keller’s article on why to plant churches.
Soli Deo Gloria