Church Planting, the Gospel, and Relationships

 

Church planting is relational because the gospel is relational.

When Jesus commissioned the disciples to “go and make disciples,” it was understood this would take place within the scope of relationships. Think about it. You can’t share the gospel with a person unless you meet them, love them, and/or communicate with them.

Relationships are critical for the spread of the gospel.

I know that may sound pretty basic, but think about the alternative. When we fail to build relationships, we are, in effect, suffocating the spread of the gospel. Meeting new people, making new friends, and allowing others to be a part of our lives, all open the doors for us to share the message of hope we have through Jesus Christ.

That’s why it’s so important that we, as followers of Christ, must deliberately foster new relationships. People will never see Jesus in us if we constantly shut others out of our lives. It’s scary, yet. It will definitely take you out of your comfort zone, no matter how “extroverted” you are. But, ultimately, it’s worth it!

As we progress towards church planting next year, there are four questions we will constantly be asking.

(Note: We have decided to wrestle with these questions often. Meaning, there will never be a definite answer.  The way we answer these questions today may change a few years from now.)

1.How will we build relationships with people who don’t attend our church?

It’s easy to find our friends at church, and we should! We tend to gravitate towards others who share the same values we do. However, just as important as relationships inside the church are relationships outside the church.  We must find ways to build relationships with people we don’t go to church with.

I was convicted of this one day when someone asked me to make a list of my non-Christian friends.  I found it very difficult.  As a pastor, I work with Christians, hang out with Christians, and easily find myself doing business with other Christians. I have a feeling I’m probably not alone.

It’s crucial that we are able to answer this question.

2. What’s the 1 issue in our city, we would most like to impact over the next 5 years?

Belive me, I would love to tackle everything. But I know that if we try to do everything we will end up doing nothing.  That’s why we will strategically seek out one thing we would like to most impact in our city over a 5 year period.  As others have already proposed, we usually can do less in a day than we think we can, but we can do more in a year than we think we can.

3. What are the 2-3 ministries we believe will have the biggest impact on our city?

We want to be a church that really makes a difference. In order to do that, we realize we will not be able to offer a buffet of ministries from which people can choose. I have decided from the get go that we will say ‘no’ to good things in order to say ‘yes’ to great things.

If someone tossed you 10 tennis balls all at once and asked you to catch them, chances are, you’d drop them all.  But if 1 tennis ball was tossed your way, that’s catchable! We would rather do a few things well than do many things poorly.

4. How will we balance outward focus with inward care?

Church plants naturally are outward focused.  They’re starting a church!  Over time the tendency is to turn more inward focused to care for the people you’ve reached.  There is a balance!  Outward focus and inward care are both needed for a healthy church.

It would be crazy to reach people only to see them exit the back door.  It’s just as crazy to not reach people because you’re so focused on caring for the insiders.  A healthy church invests time, energy, and resources building relationships with outsiders as well as caring for those insiders.

Again, church planting is relational because the gospel is relational.  People should matter to us, because they matter to God.

I believe these questions aren’t just practical for our church, but for any church.  I’m curious.  What questions does your church ask constantly ask?

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