Without a doubt, planting churches is absolutely key to the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ around the world. For decades, churches in America have championed the cause of global mission. Only recently, it seems, are we discovering that missions is not something needs to be done “over there,” but is desperately needed “right here.” We are in desperate need of church planters in our own nation. However, there are several road blocks that tend to hinder these endeavors:
1. Large-church mentality – This mindset says that it is better to grow on large church in an area than several smaller ones. However, bigger is not always better, and the ministering power of several churches can often out weight that of one large church. Large churches are not bad, but they are not the goal either.
2. Parish-church mind-set – Closely tied to the large-church mentality is the parish-church mind-set. This approach limits church planting activities by geography. Often the fear is that if there is more than one church in an area of a particular denomination or style, then they will “compete” against one another. However, the mission of the church is to reach the community with the gospel, and another church working in the field is an ally, not the competition.
3. Professional-church syndrome – Those with this mind-set believe that all pastoral staff must be seminary trained, or highly educated. But this is impossible, not only because of the limited number of pastors, but also because smaller churches cannot usually support those with this level of education (and education debt!). Seminary training is not bad, it is needed for many, but it is not required.
4. Rescue-the-perishing syndrome – This approach says that instead of planting churches, we should work to save the dying churches. But too often, like a smoker who is told to “quit or die”, a dying church would rather stay with their traditions than make needed changes. Church revitalization can happen, but church planting is usually faster, cheaper, easier, and more fruitful. A dying church should not be an excuse to not plant a church.
5. Already reached myth – This myth says that the West, and especially the United States, or the South, or wherever has already been mostly reached. But this simply is not true. While we are certainly blessed with many Christian resources, the number of churches being planted each year fails to even keep pace with the population growth. The Great Commission is not finished, no matter where you are.
6. Indifference – This is the most poisonous trap to church planting. Having little or no concern for those without the Gospel reveals a lack of sincerity of the heart or a failure to understand the true depths of the Gospel.
7. Fear – Fear can stand in the way of many church planting endeavors. Whether it be on the part of the planter(s), the church(es), or the mobilizer(s), fear can kill church planting. Fear, however, can be overcome by faith in God’s promises and confidence in the power of the Gospel message to change lives.
Do you find any of these road blocks in your own heart? In your church?