“Where are you going to plant a church?” I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been asked that question, but it wasn’t until recently that I’ve been able to give an answer. If you’d like to know that answer you can find out here.Image courtesy of Flickr
For years I just didn’t know where we should plant. I was convinced that planting a church was one of the most effective ways of reaching new people with the gospel, but I just didn’t know where we should do it. Or for that matter, how to figure it out! The options were paralyzing.
My poor wife used to joke that I would have a different idea every week. In the space of a month I once suggested four different locations. Perth, the Gold Coast, Campbeltown and Bondi Junction. Each place seemed to have it’s own list of pros and cons.
As time went on, I found myself having more and more clarity as to what really mattered. In the end, the ideal location would be the intersection of the answer to three different questions. And for what it’s worth, I think these probably apply to both church planters and those considering joining a launch team:
1. Where is there a need? The truth is, there’s a need everywhere. Less than 3% of Australian’s attend Bible believing churches, so you could literally plant next to a megachurch and still find a massive need. That being said, on a purely statistical level some places will have more people in church than others. So where is there a proportionately low number of people in solid churches? Alternatively, if you’re passionate about an unreached demographic, ethnicity or sub culture, where do they hang out and how can you start a church to reach them?
2. Where are we suited to? Historically, God tends to use specific kinds of people to reach certain people groups. For example, it doesn’t surprise me that God chose Paul to be his Apostle to the Gentiles. He was a Roman citizen, spoke fluent Greek and was highly educated. He knew the language, the culture and could hold his own in a debate. Now this was Spirit-empowered Paul to be sure, but you can be certain that God wired him that way for a reason. So how has God wired you and where might you be able to see some fruit?
3. Where (under God) might we be able to pull something off? You might have a heart for a certain people group, but if you can’t raise up a congregation within a few years then it’s going to be a hard place to plant a sustainable church. Either that or you’ll need to plant bi-vocationally (which to be frank is actually a more scalable model). Either way, it’s probably not healthy for churches to rely on external funding forever. So what doors is God opening and how can you make the most of those opportunities?
Now there’s plenty more to be said, and I’ve left out all sorts of qualifying statements (probably enough to get me in trouble)… but this is the guts of it. If you can find a place where the answer to all three of these questions intersect, you’ve found a great location for you to plant a church. Now you just gotta go out and do it.
Question: Go on… what did I leave out? What else should influence this decision? Leave a comment by clicking here.