19 Jun Effective Team Church Planting
This article appeared in the Volume 18, Issue 1, 2010 Issue of the Cultivator.
It is amazing how many people are actually involved in a church plant. From the beginning desire to start a new church to the first Sunday, there is a tremendous team effort of people serving together to effectively reproduce a new church. With a team effort, much can be accomplished for the Lord. In Mark 2:1-12, there is a tremendous story of a team of four men working together to bring a helpless man with the palsy to the salvation and healing of the Lord. There is no indication that these four men were brothers, neighbors, or even friends. They worked together out of compassion for a helpless man who needed Christ. When a new church is birthed, there are people working together who may have never known each other but are brought together to bring people to Jesus. These four men can represent four different groups of people who make up a church plant. Group one can be the reproducing pastor and church. Group two can be the new pastor and a core group helping start the new church. Group three can be the staff of BCPM including people who may never see the new church first hand. Group four can represent the pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and others who are praying, giving, and encouraging the new work. The most effective church plants have a great team effort with a passion to reach a new area with the gospel. There are three reasons why these four men were effective in getting this helpless man to Christ, and the same reasons can help a church plant be a success.
The first reason they were successful was that they acted with compassion. Verse 3 states “And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy.” Usually if a person had the palsy, they had the loss of power of motion and the loss of sensation and were basically helpless to take care of themself. This man could not help himself and needed others to show compassion on him. The Bible states that this man was “borne of four.” These four men were on their way to a great meeting with the Lord but, because of compassion, took time to help a man with the palsy. When deciding to plant a church, it should not be done just because another pastor did it, just because there is a need, just because it is scheduled, nor just because there is financing available. Birthing a church comes from a burden of compassion for a lost and helpless world who needs Christ. It is interesting to note that Christ first saved the man (v.5) and then healed him (v.11). More than just a systematic approach to church planting may there be a burden of compassion to reach the world with the gospel.
The second reason they were successful was that they acted with commitment. Verses 2-4 state that when these men reached the house where Jesus was, “there was no room to receive them.” These men brought the man with the palsy to the house, but could not get in because of the crowd. They did not get discouraged. With resolve they committed themselves to the task. The Bible states in Luke 5:18, “they sought means to bring him in.” These men pursued constantly, firmly, and with great focus in the face of many obstacles. They had to work together with determination. They had to carry the man, get him through the people, climb up to the roof, find a rope, and lower the man down. There are many obstacles to birthing a church. Finances, fear, fatigue, fickle people, and the fighting devil are a few. Not just the reproducing pastor and new pastor, but every person on the team needs to be committed to the new church.
The third reason they were successful was that they acted with complete faith. Verse 5 states, ““When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” Jesus saved this man of the palsy not “through” the four men’s faith, but “because” of their faith. When a church is reproduced, every person on the team needs to trust the Lord, believing that God will do a great work. There is a lot to be said for proper preparation for a church plant. A timeline needs to be followed which includes printing, mailing and advertising deadlines. A checklist needs to be followed to make sure everything is accounted for such as hymn books and offering plates. An order of service also needs to be developed. But if the meetings lack faith in the Lord, believing that God will do something great, it will not be successful. The Bible states that when Jesus saw “their faith” He saved the man. Every person of the team needs to give themselves over to prayer, believing the Lord will bless. A new church start should be approached with the attitude of ,”I can’t wait to see what God will do,” anticipating God to work.
An interesting note to this story is that after Jesus saves and heals this man of the palsy, there is no mention of these four men again. This is a true story, but no names were given. No credit was given to any of these men for being the leader of the four. In fact, the Bible refers to the men six times with the word “they.” God is stressing the unity of these four men, working together for the same goal. These men were not lifted up, but Christ was glorified. God is interested in a team effort to help birth a church. In a team effort, many different people are unified with compassion, commitment, and complete faith. When this is applied to church planting, Christ is glorified and the new church start is a success.