Ding Dong. It was the UPS delivery person at the door—again. Time and time again, the doorbell rang as box after box arrived filled with sound, lighting, flyers, signs and sandwich boards.
It was a frenzy of energy, prayer and nervous pacing as two of Windy’s and my adult children and their spouses were laying it all on the line to see if the Lord had really called them to plant a church in two major U.S. cities this fall.
Would a year of imbedding themselves into their respective communities and laying the foundation of relationships, Laundry Love and tons of coffee drunk with strangers birth a church? Some of these people were looking for a place to change the world with their faith, and others were far from faith but needing a “holy shift” in their lives. Could this group actually launch this ship called a church plant off the ground?
Their young leadership team was full of people who sacrificed their lives, livelihoods and, in many cases, the convenience of being near family and friends. They had spent hours and hours together praying, dreaming, planning and looking at location after location, but could they actually now get this gospel ship off the ground to reach a new group of people for the Lord?
I was a backseat observer, gladly serving as the designated grandkid caretaker so this group of people that I’m very close to could launch a church. I was reminded of why church planters use the term “launch” for the first public service of a church plant.
We all remember in elementary school where our teachers taught us the principles of launching a jet and the massive amount of fuel it takes to break the rocketship free from the grasp of Earth’s gravity. This same principle is true in getting a new community of faith off the ground.
Church planting is the greatest method of evangelism, and, in that context, church planters are local missionaries. As I travel around the Northwest, it seems that there is a new church plant happening on every corner or school cafeteria, wherever common space is available.
With U.S. churches on the decline, and fewer and fewer people attending church, how could there possibly be so many church plants? If churches are closing, how could we assure this one gets off the ground?
- Assessment. Calling is the highest order in Christian service. One must know that he or she is called to do what he or she is being launched out to do. Both formal and informal assessments are invaluable. Formal assessment is available through your district office, and informal is available from people who love you and will tell you the truth, maybe even truth you may not want to hear.
- Resources. People are your greatest resource. Gathering together people who are far from God, some who are curious, and those who want a chance to change the world for Jesus is a must. It takes a huge amount of time to build your team, get them all on the mission of the gospel and develop them as leaders. Finances are a really nice resource, too, but know that God and your Foursquare family have your back as long as you are gathering people.
- Critical Mass. Don’t underestimate the amount of time, energy and people it takes to get a church off the ground. The biggest mistake made by church planters is to launch too soon, with too little energy and, especially, with too few people. Take the time to gather critical mass before you launch.
Tears ran down my cheeks as I sat and witnessed these two launches get churches off the ground. Because they were our kids? Sure. Because they did it right? Enough right, anyway. Because tons of people will be joining us in heaven because of a couple of effective church launches? Absolutely!
Dave Veach leads the district supervisor team responsible for Foursquare’s missional objective of church and congregation multiplication.