How planters avoid the community activist trap

Good things destroy great things, and the greatest task of the church planter is to plant.

This likely occurs more frequently in pioneer or parachute plants than other types of church plants. Pioneer or parachute church plants are those church plants that generally include a core team of 1 family, the planter’s. While it may happen more frequently with the pioneer plant, it isn’t confined only to them.

You need to know your neighborhood’s story, gain influence, and develop relationships to develop a core team. What most planters find out very quickly is that not everyone is lining up to volunteer in a variety of political, social, and educational circles, so they get real busy real quick. Before long you are doing a lot of good, and you’re likely even creating some relationships, and building a core team. At some point your focus has to return to the core of church planting.

What you need to recognize

1- Recognize that you are going to over extend and have to retract at times

2- Recognize that “Good” is not the “Gospel”

3- Recognize that activity for influence isn’t sustainable

Just because you’re volunteering your life away for great things doesn’t mean that most do or ever will care one bit about your church plant, but some will. As a new church planter you will likely think every “yes” is Jesus parting the Red Sea. Sometimes it is, but not always. You are designed as a high capacity leader, and chances are you are going to exceed that capacity to the point you will need to lower the level to gain sanity. Lowering the level looks like saying “No” to really cool and awesome things. You’ll likely learn this one the hard way.

What to avoid

1- Avoid activity outside of your stretch vision

2- Avoid the disguises

3- Avoid forsaking the “Good News” for good activity

It will help in the long run to know where you want to be and not take on things that couldn’t eventually fit into that scheme. Be who you are. People aren’t stupid, well, most of the time people aren’t stupid. They know who you are and what you’re doing. They expect you to talk about Jesus, so don’t avoid this, and be wise to appropriate moments. If you’re good activity isn’t furthering the possibility of your making disciples, consider stopping. I don’t mean just stop, but you need to constantly review your impact.

What to do

1- Move to a city to live, not to plant

2- Find natural rhythms

3- Roll the boulder one step at a time

If you come to a city to live, you can do and say just about whatever you need to. When you move to plant, you’ll find that you’re always under someone’s thumb about what should be said and done. Ironically they can often be a part of the problem as well. Get yourself into the veins of your city, be yourself, share the good news of Christ as King, and roll that boulder of church planting up that impossible hill one step at a time.

BY JOSHUA WHETSTINE – NORTH AMERICAN MISSION BOARD CITY MISSIONARY FOR MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL.

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