Jamie, over on his blog, e-mailed me asking for advice on planting a church (I prefer to call this “seeding missional communities”). I responded with the following “advice” (in bold) and Jamie responded. My advice was simple and unoriginal. Yet it was advice I WISH I HAD TAKEN MUCH EARLIER in my church planting ventures. As I read it on his blog again, I thought others might find it helpful. And let’s pray for Jamie and his wife Kim in this noble and blessed venture for Christ and His Kingdom.For what its worth here’s my church planting advice compacted into one paragraph and Jamie’s interaction.
Church Planting Advice From David Fitch
DF: “DON’T DO IT ALONE. In today’s post-Christendom, I believe you must have at least two other couples or single people to be ministry partners in this, equally committed to the leadership and development of this little community over a span of five years.”
JAMIE : This is encouraging, as it was the first requirement Kim & I made when we started conversation about the plant. It does scare me that we won’t find those others, but I have to hold on to hope. In fact, if any of you feel a tug in this direction, drop me a line.
DF: “HAVE A VERY CLEAR UNDERSTANDING THAT MISSIONAL COMMUNITIES require several years to germinate, and so success will not be measured by numbers. That the real incredible stuff happens after fostering a life together of support, encouragement and discernment of where God is calling you to minister in the neighborhoods.”
JAMIE: Having spent the last 6 years nurturing our little missional community in our ministry, this is a lesson we understand very well. As a YWAMer, I obviously believe there is a place for short term dynamics, but there are some areas (like this) where it isn’t an option. I guess it was good I didn’t know any better, because I expected it to take that long!
DF: “HAVE A SURVIVAL PLAN. Finances and visions of grandeur destroy church planters, their health, marriages and well being. Live simply, have a way to support yourself that is sustainable (bi-vocational maybe?). Plan so finances won’t be a huge drain on you all the time.”
JAMIE: Again, being YWAM missionaries has helped prepare us for this. Not only are we used to living and ministering for very little, simply living is a way of life in our mission. We have much to learn, though, especially as we move forward with those living outside the YWAM context.
DF: “LEAD THROUGH HUMILITY, GRACE AND MODELING SERVANTHOOD. Always be ready to minister prayer and the forgiveness of Christ. Don’t be afraid to show anyone the way of dying to self that leads to life, even the poor.”
JAMIE: One of our core values here is rooted in this truth. We have a long way to go in walk it out well, but our neighbours have been patient, yet rightfully demanding teachers. I am forever grateful to be knocked off my pedestal on a regular basis!
DF: “INVEST IN OTHER LEADERS walking with them, praying with them, guiding their imaginations towards God and His Mission. This multiplies ministry exponentially.”
JAMIE: This is the area that I feel particularly challenged in. It is a combination of my own need to do it better and a seriously lack of self-confidence. I also know that leaders have hurt me in the past, so I am often gun-shy about repeating those same mistakes myself.
DF: “MAKE REGULAR TIMES OF PRAYER (that can last at least an hour – say on a long walk) out of which you struggle to give up your dreams and allow God to work in whatever small seeds you’re planting that day. You’ll look back in 5 -6 years and can’t believe what God did.”
JAMIE: Prayer is another area that I struggle. I am constantly talking to God through inner dialogue, but the discipline of prayer must extend far beyond that. I have tried many different ways to overcome this barrier, but it is something that will require more time, patience and discipline.
DF: “I believe everyone should plant a church at least once in their lives. For it is here where Pentecost can be most purely experienced in this lifetime. We really have no idea the amazing things God will do (often subtley) with our feeble offerings when placed under the Reign of Christ.”
THANKS JAMIE FOR THE ASKING THE QUESTIONS AND BEING WILLING TO SERVE CHRIST IN THIS WAY.