Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Ordinary Planter

So I am recognizing Wednesdays, the day in which I designated to be a blog on church planting, to be difficult. I'm up by 5:30 at the latest and don't get to "home" until 10:00 p.m. at the earliest (I stay with friends 20 minutes from campus, which is such a blessing). What fun experimenting with being a regular blogger! Read this with anticipation for what's next. Sweat it out.

The Ordinary Pastor
Recently, The Gospel Coalition unveiled a new project called The Ordinary Pastor. The goal in two words: "Be encouraged."
Be encouraged when growth is slow and measured by generations. Be encouraged when guilt, fear, and the specter of failure form an unholy alliance against you. Be encouraged when young men grown fat on the feast of podcasts question your every move. Be encouraged when no one knows your name; it is written in blood in the book of life. Ordinary pastor, be encouraged: Your faithful labor in the darkened forest of obscurity is heroic.
I am not yet a pastor. Even the "yet" comprises so much uncertainty. Thankfully these concerns are of the Lord. Regardless of my own situation I am encouraged with the direction The Gospel Coalition is taking by highlighting the countless pastors who God uses on a minute-by-minute basis to preach the gospel of Christ, disciple people by the Spirit, and faithfully serve where they are -- all without ever being recognized by throngs of screaming fans who inject the pastor's material into their eyes and ears.

The Ordinary Planter
Building off of this is the real hard sweet truth that church planting is much like pastoring -- ordinary. I have been involved with a church plant called The Line here in a Chicago for about two years, since before the core group even lived in Chicago. We have had a swath of crazy and amazing experiences, but in all honesty that is how things go with any church plant. It's ordinary.

I was just reading earlier about Steven Furtick, a 30 year-old pastor who was first a planter. Starting in Charlotte, North Carolina, only four years ago with seven other couples, his church, Elevation Church, is over 6,000 strong. Their website says they've seen over 8,000 people receive Christ. He also has a book coming out, Sun Stands Still, which according to recent tweets may be sold out on Amazon before next Tuesday. But for every Steven Furtick -- or Mark Driscoll or Tim Keller or Rick Warren -- there are hundreds of men plowing daily to minister to several dozen individuals in cities of millions or towns of thousands. When they hold their first baptism service it can be in a kiddie pool at the rented gym or even the bathtub at the pastor's house. There is no explosion of growth in terms of numbers or conversions although the preaching may be powerful and burrow deep into the hearts of the 80 people who faithful arrive on Sunday mornings not only to listen, but to set up the equipment, pray, break down and do childcare.

This is the life of the ordinary church planter and the ordinary church plant. A study done by Dr. Ed Stetzer in 2007 states that there are 4,000 church plants annually. In a conversation with him around this time last year, Dr. Stetzer stated that after four years of the existence of a church plant the average membership is 75 people. Think about it for a moment. We have a tendency to glamorize not only the megachurch pastor, but also the megachurch planter, the individual (and families and core groups) that seems to see his church grow by the hundreds while he sleeps. Yet when we survey the landscape of church planting, we see planting following the pattern of pastoring -- it's ordinary.

The clock has struck 12:00 am. Tomorrow starts early again at 5:30 am (hopefully). Therefore I shall stop here. Please know that the direction of these posts is to share church planting experiences from those on the ground. This may include planter profiles, stories of conversion, challenges faced along the way, etc.

Are you looking to be a pastor? What about a church planter? Are you involved in a large church or a small church? How do you view the situation there? Are you like me, helping out with a church plant? What's your experience like? What about your pastor?

Sincerely,
Just an ordinary guy with an ordinary blog helping out with an ordinary church plant

By His Grace.

2 comments:

  1. Fortunately for us, standing behind (or in front) every ordinary pastor is en EXTRAordinary God who promises to build his church!

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