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February 6, 2016

Blast Off

By Phil Metzger

The best analogy for me regarding church planting is this: it’s like launching a rocket. I remember watching NASA put these massive hunks of metal into space and being just amazed at the whole process. Do you remember the countdown? 5… 4….3… 2….1… blastoff! But the something peculiar happens. Nothing!

The engines fire and a massive amount of smoke fills the area, but the rocket itself doesn’t seem to be going anywhere! There are these brief moments where the force buildup is increasing for liftoff. In those moments the rocket isn’t technically moving. It’s going to move, but it isn’t just yet.

That’s what church planting can feel like! You know that God has called you to launch a new work for His glory. You know that you are called to be a part of that work. There is a lot you know in faith. So you begin. Things start, but nothing is moving.

There has been a “blast off,” but no “lift off” yet! That part is in God’s hands ultimately. At some point this “launch” is going to gain momentum but what do you do in the meantime?

Let me make a few suggestions.

Evangelize

At the very top of our church planting priority list should be salvation for those who are lost because at the core of a church planter’s passion is seeing new believers grow in the Lord. It is inevitable that believers from other churches will make their way through the doors of your new church plant but they aren’t the primary target; at least they shouldn’t be.

Like our predecessor, the apostle Paul, we “make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation,” (Romans 15:20).

In Paul’s case he was going out to parts of the world that had literally never heard the name of Jesus. They had no thought regarding a singular Creator God who became one of us, to save all of us. Paul’s mission was to preach good news to those who didn’t know there was bad news!

Today much of the world has heard of Jesus, but as any church planter will tell you; the view most have of Him is worse than if they hadn’t heard of Him yet. Much of our time is spent helping people re-adjust their understanding of who God is and of His wonderful plan for their lives.

There are a lot of issues to consider in your church plant so let the gospel and the Holy Spirit guide you. Go after those who haven’t responded to God’s grace yet.

Consider the fact that your “church plant” might not look like much for a while as you focus on building relationships and preaching Christ. I’m not sure enough of us church planters consider the reality that in the beginning we are more evangelist than pastor.

Pray

Don’t let the feelings that there must be “better” things you could be doing with your time to launch your church keep you from the most important things. Yes a new work requires tons of work, sweat and tears. Yes there are always things you can be doing, but don’t forget that good is the enemy of the best!

Take the time to pray. You will be changed in the process and this is as important as anything else you will do in the early years of a church plant.

If you really want to know the pulse of your city then pray a lot!

Be About the Word

Use the early years to study God’s Word. (use the later years too!) Let the Word of God be an anchor in your life and in the life of your new church. Let your counsel come from God’s Word. Let your exhortations be rooted in God’s Word. Pour God’s Word over the hearts and minds of the people.

They are the words of life. When heaven and earth pass away God’s Word will remain! Be all about God’s Word.

Have Hope

When a new church is starting, it’s awkward. On the one hand it is really exciting. Something new is beginning. The awkward part is trying to figure out why everyone doesn’t else feel as excited as you do. Most likely a lot of people will come and go in the early days and that’s okay. It’s a part of the process, but don’t lose hope.

Optimism is necessary for every church planter. Not false optimism that doesn’t see obstacles or problems, but the kind of faith in God that helps you see over obstacles and through problems.

When you are launching a church there’s a lot of smoke but not a lot of movement. Have hope that God is going to get you out of the atmosphere in His timing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Phil Metzger

Phil Metzger (@metzgerphil) is the senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Budapest, as well as, the ministry director of Calvary Chapel Bible College Europe in Vajta, Hungary. He has served as a full-time missionary since 1998. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he oversees Calvary church plants throughout Eastern Europe, Ethiopia, and Nigeria. His heart and ministry is focused on making disciples and seeing the church impact the world for Christ. He would like to see more churches planted in order to bring the Word of God to the lost. Phil and his wife Joy have four beautiful children: Niki, Karina, Judah, and Hannah.

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