Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Practical church planting lessons learned

As stated in the previous blog, my family and I recently moved to Millington, TN under military orders.  Our plans is for me to retire after this tour as we settle into our 14 acre farm (still under construction).  We have been faithfully searching out a local church and were interviewed for membership this past week.  Prayerfully, the church will vote for our acceptance in the next two weeks.

During our time back in North Carolina as we labored to plant Albemarle Reformed Church, I received great counsel from several fellow Elders including Dr. Carlton McCleod from Calvary Revival Church in Chesapeake, Scott Brown (also the director of the NCFIC), Dan Horn, and Jason Dohm of Hope Baptist Church in Wake Forest.  These godly men were a great source of encouragement and teaching to me and ARC.  I cannot express sufficiently the level of respect I have for each of them.  They have made and continue to make an incredible impact on me, my family, and the ministries in which we serve.  If you are able to sit under the guidance and teachings of these men, I am certain you too will be blessed.

During this time, the Lord taught me much in planting the church.  While I could spend numerous blogs detailing the finer elements of these points, I would rather present some of the more practical lessons.  Some may seem basic but are often the most overlooked of lessons.

Respect long-standing biblical churches
Too often we see a single issue in a local church and suddenly want to jump all over our brethren when it is discovered.  Even if it is one Scripture would not declare heretical, many still want to forcefully redirect that church to come in line with their position immediately.  Fill in the blank as to what you may think it would be, but there is a certain degree of respect which should be granted to these churches that have labored so long.  True, there are plenty which compromise the Gospel (and I am not speaking of these), but there are also many which do not and are still looked down upon.  Know that much time, prayer, and study went into the decades of that church getting to where it is.  Men of God likely spent countless hours pouring over the Word, bathed in prayer, and seeking counsel before making the decisions that led to where the church is now.  You are not the Apostle Paul.  Do not go barging through the door of that church holding it in contempt of a court of your own making.  

Not everyone who begins with you will continue
This point is not meant in bitterness or spite.  Even if the decision to leave is not a biblical one, we should not hold a grudge against our brethren for such.  There are those who are excited in the initial beginnings of a church who easily lose their motivation for various reasons.  Some don't want to do the hard work of structuring the church and want a more "free-flowing" service.  Others did not realize the amount of time and devotion it would take to get such a church going from the group up.  For whatever reason it is important that we acknowledge that some initially jump onboard but will eventually depart at the next port call.  Do not take it personally, but chalk it up as a part of sanctification.  

Be prepared for odd responses
Being the only Reformed Baptist church in the area meant that most were unfamiliar with the title.  When you attempt to explain that it is a confessional church it gets even more complicated.  Have patience with them and understand that in different parts of our country and the world certain denominations are more prevalent than others.  If you are a particularly different doctrinal slant it will take some time to explain and establish a good understanding with other brethren regarding this.

Place more emphasis on local outreach rather than travelling 3 hours to preach on the streets
This was a point that I ensured I held to from the beginning.  I did not engage in certain outreaches outside of my area if there was the possibility of doing the same nearby.  Frequency on the streets and in the neighborhoods sharing the Gospel will be noticed.  If you cannot devote yourself to witnessing in your "Jerusalem" then do not venture to "Judea".  Local missions should not be forsaken for the notoriety of outreach elsewhere.  

Don't go it alone
Thankfully, the Lord sent a fellow Elder nearly 9 months after the church was started but the time between proved to be a rather difficult one.  While I had a fellow brother who started with me, he did not have the understanding or pastoral experience to help make some of the necessary decisions.  Having a plurality of Elders is not only wise but biblical.  It helps with accountability, oversight, and serves as a great opportunity to share burdens.

I could of course continue on and expand on many of these 5 points (not a Calvinism pun) but they are the basics that I personally experienced.  I am pleased to hear and see through sermons posts that ARC is continuing onward and continue to pray that they will be used mightily by God.  So whether you are planting a church or considering it, I hope these few lessons will help you in some way.

Thanks for stopping by.

In Christ,
Adam Gray

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