Church Planting Day 1: What it is and what it’s not

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I have the honor this week and next of teaching a 2-week block class at Calvary Chapel Bible College in Murrieta, CA. It’s a crash course in church planting where I’ll be teaching for almost 4 hours each day for 8 days! To put it in perspective, I taught a little over 30 hours in the 38 weeks that I taught Revelation at Awaken, and I’ll be teaching about that long in 8 days here! Thankfully, it’s a subject I’m passionate about and that I’ve given my life to: preaching the Gospel and training people for ministry.

I’m only 3 years into my first church plant, so I’m certainly not an “expert” by any means, but I am very honored to be teaching this class. I have 25 students enrolled in my class, and it’s a great, diverse group. Some are already on church planting teams, gearing up to head out. Others hadn’t really heard of church planting before, but were interested in finding out more!

Here’s a quick recap of what we covered on Day 1…

Day 1 was an intro to myself and the story of Awaken Church. It’s always fun to relive the story and recount God’s faithfulness, confirmation, and provision even in the years leading up to the launch. It’s easy to get so caught up in the action that I temporarily lose sight of all that God has done to get us to this point.

After sharing pictures and stories from the first couple years of Awaken, I began by dashing their hopes and dreams of what church planting is really like. We discussed what church planting is not and what church planting is.

Church Planting is NOT…

COOL. Unfortunately, church planting has become “trendy” lately. It’s what a lot of young guys are doing and have done, and some have unfortunately fallen into the trap of stepping into something that seemed “cool” without counting the cost.

FUN. If you think church planting will be a fun way to get some neat experiences, you’re wrong. It’s a fierce battle that will tear your family to shreds if you’re not prepared. You will have fun planting a church if it’s what God has called you to do. But even that will only come after lots of hard work and dedication.

ABOUT YOU. Whether it’s planting a church or just ministry in general, some people step into ministry to prove something to others or to themselves. We addressed the tendency and dangers of using ministry to compete against others or boost your ego.

A HOBBY. If you’re just looking for something to pass some time, fly a kite, read a book, or plant a garden, but please don’t plant a church. The stakes are too high. Souls are at stake and the reputation of Jesus and His Church are on the line!

Church Planting IS…

HARD. It’s hard mentally, physically, and spiritually. It’s hard on you, your team, your family, and your marriage. But generally speaking, nothing that’s easy to do is worth giving your life for!

EFFECTIVE. Planting a church is one of the most effective ways to preach the Gospel and reach a city. God uses it in HUGE ways in those who are leading and those who get involved.

REWARDING. There’s a big difference between “fun” and “rewarding.” “Fun” can be as simple as throwing something off a balcony and watching it explode when it hits the ground. “Rewarding” implies investment and perseverance. As you pour your life into the church, there will be exciting temporal milestones, but there are also eternal rewards that are accruing (1 Corinthians 15:58, Hebrews 6:10)!

A BOOST TO YOUR PRAYER LIFE. I thought I had a decent handle on praying…until I planted a church. I learned more about the power of prayer through the avenue of church planting than through any other event in my life. Simple reliance on the Lord through prayer is huge.

Toward the end of the class, we spent some time discussing why the church exists, Biblically and practically. The class divided into groups and came up with some great answers. The church exists to preach the Gospel, train for ministry, stir up good works, reach the world, impact communities, and so much more. We had some great discussion that stemmed from that research.

Day 2 is tomorrow: the calling to ministry, qualifications, priorities, and more. Can’t wait!

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