Should we start a Church?

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by FlyForFun, Aug 18, 2009.

  1. FlyForFun

    FlyForFun
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    We live in a fairly barren area for churches and the proclamation of the Word of God. There is a fairly fast-growing seeker-sensitive church nearby (Rick Warren is quoted more often than Jesus), a few tiny SBC churches in the small towns around the fringes of our Southwest PA town, and several ginormous mainline, empty churches in town.

    The area is predominately Roman and Eastern Catholic (former coal mining area), with a wide swath of fringe churches ("Apostle Joe", House of Healing, etc).

    We've lived here 7 years and for the last 6 have attended an ABC church.

    Ministry opportunities are limited, the weekly preaching is marginally edifying, and the church is slowly disintegrating (we have about 1/2 the active membership now than 5 years ago. The vast majority of members on the roll have not attended in years. Our Sunday attendence hovers at 120).

    There is no outreach, no missions, and no encouragement of subordinate leaders.

    My wife is done -- she asks nearly every week, "Why are we still attending here?"

    I've been less ready to jump ship because I was teaching the adult Sunday School class and there was a core group that seemed to be getting it and actually growing as they studied.

    But most are more than happy to check the "attended church" block and move on with life.

    I've been able to preach 3 times this year, and each time have received sincere thanks, etc. One person said this week, "If you ever start a church -- we're there! #### said he could listen to you all day!"

    I was embarassed but flattered, but I know this couple has issues with the current pastor (though they are not alone -- currently the pastor's wife is not speaking to about half the congregation, and the pastor exchanges mere pleasantries out of duty).

    My father-in-law, who is an SBC pastor and attended last time I filled the pulpit, told me my sermon on 1 Cor 5 was "the best exposition of that passage I've ever heard -- I'm not lyin' and I've heard plenty!" and that I had definately "missed my calling."

    So now I'm perplexed. I feel like I have nothing to do (no sermon to prepare -- even though I have a very complex FT job as a Project manager/ engineer), and no place to minister. I can continue teaching Adult Sunday School, but preaching is much more -- I dunno -- it's a cut above (and I am NOT demeaning teachers! I have a Secondary Ed minor, taught HS for 5 years, and still hear from students -- 20 years later!).

    Starting a church would be exciting, and we could emphasize so many missing elements in our current ministries (we have NO African-Americans in our current congregation -- shame!), preach and teach the Word, encourage people to shoulder the burden and grow and learn to lead.

    My wife would jump at the opportunity, and we have several families that would likely follow us.

    But it would be wrong to split a church, wrong to step outside supervision, and wrong to claim *I* have it together while *you* obviously don't.

    Thus my dilemna.

    I'm new to this board and don't know any of you, so I won't be making any decisions based on responses, but the only other folks I know that I can talk to about this have given me opinions ("Go for it").

    I'd like to factor out the bias.

    FWIW, here's a BRIEF background -- Grew up Roman Catholic, saved at 12 in a Pentecostal church (was still attending RC School then, and was refused the Eagle Scout 2 years later for "Evidence of Lack of faith in God" for not attending the sponsor RC church), 21 years service (10 years Air Force enlisted, 11 years Army officer) OCS honor grad, BA in History from Houghton College in 2 1/2 years, 5 years as a HS Teacher at a Christian School, various terms as elder and deacon in various churches, about 20 years as a teacher in Adult Sunday Schools, fluent in French, and convinced Calvinist, but not willing to make it a point of battle for every believer (It took me 30 years -- why shouldn't I give everyone else that much time?).

    We've been married 28 years, have 3 grown children and one grandchild.
     
    #1 FlyForFun, Aug 18, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 18, 2009
  2. rdwhite

    rdwhite
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    Pray, fast, and pray some more. If God is calling you, he will provide. Many times in our ministry I have faced a leap of faith, so to speak. There was an open door, but I could not see the landing. After much prayer and seeking of wise council, I made my decisions based on what I believed God was telling me to do and ever time he was there and provided all our needs and blessed in ways I would have never imagined. Sometimes I had much support and other times I had none. Several times I had friends and family standing in the way, but ultimately I must answer to God and not men. Many pastors are bi-vocational, and you will certainly need to be if you start a new work.

    It will be a hard road and will be filled with set backs and disappointments. People will lie about you and slander you for starting a new work. If it is not from God, you will certainly fail. If it is from God, the Devil will certainly stand against you and if you are not diligent you may still fail. But if it is from God, you must try, you must follow his leading, because to ignore the call of God will be a grave mistake.
     
  3. Mexdeaf

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    My godly father-in-law told me one time when I was struggling with a decision:

    "It seems like you already know what it is that God wants you to do. What's stopping you from doing it?"

    As I read your post those words came to mind, so I felt that they should be shared.
     
  4. FlyForFun

    FlyForFun
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    You stink.

    :p

    But you're right.

    :)
     
  5. FlyForFun

    FlyForFun
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    Excellent advice -- I wholeheartedly agree.
     
  6. gb93433

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    Many a person will shower you with accolades and promises but when it comes time to make the change many fewer will go along. Make sure you have good support and those who will be in it for the long haul. Planting a church is hard work and there can be many discouraging moments. If oyu take the plunge be ready for tough times and discouraging moments. The only thing you have to start with is people. You have no building and few resources. Count the cost before you start.
     
  7. FlyForFun

    FlyForFun
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    Exactly right -- for every 5 that say, "We'll go with you!" expect 1 to follow through.
     
  8. Salty

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    My first thought is to sit down with the pastor and share your concerns. He might even be supportive of your intentions.
    If you do start a new work, I would consider an area at a distance from your current church - then it may not be seen only as a split.

    Please keep us posted so we may continue to lift you up in prayer.

    Salty
     
  9. FlyForFun

    FlyForFun
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    Well....

    (I'm being careful given this is a public forum)

    I've had several one on one meetings with the Pastor. The last was with a fellow deacon as I brought up strong concerns with the use of Henri Nouwen's writings as study material, a class on various breath and centering prayers, and the Rob Bell Nooma series.

    Since his wife taught the first two, he was doubly sensitive to any criticism.

    I tried to be tactful and diplomatic, but when someone says, "I see absolutely nothing wrong with any of Rob Bell's videos..." you have to wonder.

    As far as distance, I think we need a church right in the heart of downtown within walking distance of a fairly large population. Our current church is downtown, but only a few people live within walking distance (and none walk).

    Thanks for the reply and the prayer!!
     
  10. Tom Bryant

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    Along with the other advice, go talk to church planters. It is much more than preaching or starting a Bible study. Do you have evangelistic gifts? Do you see the possible church plant as a place for Christians to receive good Bible teaching and/or for Christians to be equipped to reach their friends and neighbors for Jesus? How will you pay for the publicity, for a place to meet, for printed materials...
     
  11. FlyForFun

    FlyForFun
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    My Father-in-law was one...my wife was a teen in those years and has all the stories -- good and bad!!

    My vision of ministry is to enable Christians to grow and develop their gifts. The last thing I want to be is the one-man-bad, do it all, know it all. Far too many churches have the "professioanl christian" mentality. That's why I think bi-vocational makes sense -- we all have to contribute or this won't work.

    I don't know how to avoid the impression that it is a split, though.

    :tear:
     
  12. Mexdeaf

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    Hmmm, IF God wants you to do it and you are very sure of it, then I would leave those "impressions" up to Him.
     
  13. FlyForFun

    FlyForFun
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    True...

    But I'm pretty careful about claiming God's sanction on what can be easily construed as contrary to unity.

    It's not easy, and I'm not 100% settled, but I truly appreciate the feedback. So far it's been very helpful!

    :godisgood:
     
  14. Tom Bryant

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    I agree that your father in law and wife are great resources, but they are not disinterested parties. They love you. Get some dis-interested advice and assessment.

    In a sense, it is a split. Don't worry about the what others not a part of the plant think.

    If God leads you to start a new church, remember that although you cannot and ought not be a 1 man band, God has called you to be the pastor and leader. The church plant needs to reflect your God given vision of the church. You will have lots of people who will want to dilute that vision with their own view of the church. They will want the new church to correct what they saw as wrong in their previous church. Determine the direction God is leading you and go boldly towards it.
     
  15. FlyForFun

    FlyForFun
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    Good point.

    I use Army leadership lessons all the time, but it frightens those that think the Army is all about "Do it cuz I said so!"

    Sure, there's some of that, but in a line unit (armor, cavalry, infantry) Lieutenants and Captains work side by side with NCOs and enlisted soldiers. There has to be a solid working relationship built on mutual respect and dedication to the mission.

    I was also an Officer Candidate School instructor. I'd tell the LT wannabes, "Sure, you can simply order your soldiers to do whatever, but they'll never follow you."

    What we (the Army) wanted was leaders -- people who could articulate a vision, set goals, amass the appropriate resources, and coordinate the effort, all the while assuring that the needs of subordinates were met (notice "needs" -- not "wants") and the next level of leaders were being trained to assume the next level in leadership.

    There are strong parallels in church leadership, because Army leadership was based on a mission, and the mission trumped individual desires, preferences, and expectations.

    All that said, the biggest lesson is to train your subordinates to replace you. If you do that, you will leave behind a thriving body, and not a headless mob.
     
  16. Lux et veritas

    Lux et veritas
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    Spurgeon once said that if a man can refrain from preaching, then he should. In other words, it must be a compassion like Paul, "Woe is me if I preach not the gospel!"

    You are really asking 2 different questions.
    1. Should there be a new church started.
    2. Should you go into the ministry (i.e. be the pastor).

    The answer to #1 may be 'Yes', while the answer to #2 is 'No'. You must settle Q. #2 first, and then look at the first. Confusing them will only bring about more confusion of mind.

    My recommendation is this. Every one considering entering the gospel ministry should read carefully and prayerfully the following:
    1. Lectures to My Students (C.H. Spurgeon)
    2. The Reformed Pastor (Richard Baxter)
    3. Preaching and Preachers (Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones)

    The material covered in these books is indispensible for godly success in the ministry. I recommend these books to all younger men who approach me about questions of their call, and find that without fail, if they have honestly faced the issues raised by these 3 ministers, they will be equipped to make a right choice.

    This is not to negate prayer and looking to the Lord, but these are spiritual aids that should not be overlooked.

    As for the comments on your sermon, Spurgeon once said, "A sermon wept over is more acceptable with God than one gloried over".

    Never, never, NEVER go into the ministry because someone (or several people) gave positive comments on a sermon. That is the worst possible reason. Why? You will be tempted to quit the ministry when people give negative comments on your preaching ... and believe me they will come!
     
  17. Revmitchell

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    The church never would have called Moses to lead Isreal out of Egypt. They guy had a reputation problem, he had a past reproach hanging over his head, and he lacked confident and the ability to communicate effectively.

    The church would never have called Paul to plant churches. He was often brash and wanted things his way. He also had a past reproach and his health was not always the best.

    The church would not have called Peter to Pastor. He too had a past reproach having denied God three times and he just walked away from the ministry. He was known to be impulsive and not to do what he said he would do. He had to be exhorted by Jesus Himself to straighten up as he was speaking on behalf od Satan rather than God and he had no education.


    If you have a deep seated concern for the lost in this area then you can know that your heart is prepared to reach the lost (Psalm 126:6). If you are willing to share the gospel in this area then you can know that you are obedient (Matthew 28:18-20). If you want to pastor a church where there is great need then you have a godly desire ( 1 Timothy 3:1). If you are willing to go and do the work of the ministry not knowing the end result or where the provision will come from then you have a missionary's heart and a great faith (Hebrews 11:8-10). Pray, fast, and do the work of the minisitry while waiting on God to give the increase ( Galatians 6:9).
     
  18. FlyForFun

    FlyForFun
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    I've read Baxter's Reformed Pastor and Dr. ML-J Preachers and Preaching (as well as other works) with great profit.

    Spurgeon's Lectures is on the to do list.

    I did not mean to imply that a few positive comments on a sermon were leading me to the ministry -- far from it! This was simply another small -- but telling -- confirmation of a gift.

    Keep in mind I've taught Adult Sunday School classes for years, and some of the classes were large (60+ in our previous church) -- almost small congregations.

    I've heard lots of "That was really great!" form folks over the years. I also heard "Why don't you....?" and "I'm not getting much from this...." as well.

    You have to know your people to know what to listen to and what to ignore.

    :smilewinkgrin:
     

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