Thursday, November 10, 2011

Modern March | a Christian blog

Modern March | a Christian blog

Church Planting in the Western World – Part 1: A Discussion with Tim Brister

Posted: 09 Nov 2011 07:47 AM PST

In this three-part series, I interviewed three of my favorite men that have experience in church planting and church planter training, and one happens to be from a different continent.

For some other great interviews and conversations, click HERE.


Tim Brister is the Director of the PLNTD Network and Associate Pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida. He also blogs at the popular Provocations & Pantings.


What are the biggest cultural challenges that you see hindering the Gospel in your country?

TB: My one word answer would be idolatry.  But to be more specific, I would say that our culture provides many functional saviors or god-replacements that have brought about increased slavery and dysfunctional living, ironically being lived out as a self-salvation project.  Seeking to be free, people have become enslaved.  Thinking they are living independent of God, they don't realize they are only under the present judgment and facing the coming wrath of God.  Unlike many addictions, idolatry springs from good things that have become ultimate things.  Our culture has defined themselves by the good things God has blessed us, and the in our depravity we have turned God's blessings into a curse.  Only when the kingdom of God comes in the power of the Holy Spirit can captives be set free and functional saviors seen for the sham they really are.

What would you say is the biggest reason for a need for church planting in your country?

TB: Every generation is a responsible steward of the mission God has given us.  That mission is to make disciples who gather as new churches (local expressions of the kingdom).  We need church planting first and foremost in our country because the church is the only "institution" God has promised to build and bless.  Our country is not promised God's blessings.  The same is true for parachurch organizations, educational systems, or government programs.  The church is not only uppermost in God's plan.  It is God's plan for His people.  Therefore, we should devote our lives to joining God on His mission to make His name great through the proclamation of the gospel, advancement of His kingdom, and planting of new churches.

Cultural context aside, what general advice would you give to a man who is considering planting a church?

TB: Generally speaking, I would begin by saying know God well.  That may sound simplistic, but often times church planters spend more time considering the context rather than communion with God.  We need me who know God and commune with Him, men who are fluent with the gospel and find their lives shaped and saturated with it.  The calling of a church planter is certainly important, but what is preeminent in my mind is whether that prospective planter has a cursory knowledge and experience with God or whether he is, in the words of John Piper, "God-besotted."  Given all the challenges and difficulties church planters face, those who know God best are best equipped to handle the various seasons they will encounter.

What encouragement would you give a planter who may be thinking of “throwing in the towel” because perhaps things are not going how they had hoped?

TB: Realistically speaking, I believe every church planter will be able to attest that things that did not go exactly as they envisioned.  Everything looks great on paper or in a proposal, but when everything unfolds, there are surprises and disappointments that will be inevitable.  In some situations, it may very well be time to "throw in the towel" in the sense that God may have other plans than what you intended.  On the other hand, I believe that we are living in a time where endurance and perseverance are well-worn virtues of yesteryear but a rare find today.  My encouragement would be not to think too self-referentially or make decisions when you are depressed or frustrated.  Seek counsel from those who will speak plainly in your life and help you keep a kingdom-first perspective on all your labors.

Lastly, I encourage the church planter to reflect on the last days of Jesus' life on earth.  His mission appeared to be a waste of time and effort.  His disciples all turned back and denied Jesus.  He had no visible "fruit" and even on the cross His Father turned His back on Him.   At any point, Jesus could have thrown in the towel.  He didn't when he sweat drops of blood at Gethsemane, was whipped to the bone, or when nails pierced his hands and feet.  At the end of the day, this vision of our Savior who "for the joy set before Him" endured the cross (Heb. 12:1-2) should inspire us in the race marked out for us.  Because of the resurrection, Paul exhorts us that we should be "steadfast, immovable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord" and encourages us that "no labor is in vain in the Lord" (1 Cor. 15:58).  Abound in the work.  None of it is wasted because Jesus is risen and will raise us also.  Believe that the Lord of the harvest will bring an increase.  And find your identity not in the work or the harvest but in the one who rejoices over you as His adopted son.




Scott Thomas is the President of the Acts 29 Network and Pastor of Church Planting at Mars Hill Church. He is also the founder of Gospel Coach.


Steve Timmis is the Director of Acts 29 Western Europe and an elder at The Crowded House. He also co-authored several books on the church including Total Church and Everyday Church.

Filed under: Church, Gospel, Pastoral Resources


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