Home > Blog > Planter, Why Art Thou Planting? [Part 2]

May 2, 2017

Planter, Why Art Thou Planting? [Part 2]

By Bill Hogg

“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away …” I wrote a blog on motives. I raised the big “why” question. Why do you do what you do? Why are you engaging in the heavy lifting of church planting? You can refresh your memory here.

Let’s pick that up again.

What fuels your ministry? What propels you on mission? Why pour your energy into developing a brand new gospel enterprise?

I want to offer a few motives for mission.

Learning from a Scottish Indian Jones

The medical missionary pioneer, David Livingstone, has been criticized for being hijacked by Victorian cultural imperialism. The Scottish explorer pursued the three Cs: Christianity, commerce, and civilization. He thought that the opening up of legitimate trade routes would break the back of human trafficking. This was a misguided strategy. From our 21st Century vantage point, it is all too easy to point at the imperialistic shortcomings of our missional forebears. Something greater than three Cs percolated through the chambers of Livingstone’s heart.

He had a vision. That’s for sure. He dreamed of indigenous African evangelists fanning out across the Dark Continent and proclaiming the good news. He looked out on the horizon and saw smoke curling up from distant kraals, realizing these people had never heard the name of Jesus.

He put his life at risk. He was shot at by slave traders, attacked by a hippo, and mauled by a lion. His wife, Mary, contracted malaria on a journey to join him and died. Like many missionaries of that era, he spent extended periods of time away from his children.

Why in the world would you put yourself through all that?

This question came into sharp focus when Livingstone returned to the British Isles on home assignment. One audience member recited Livingstone’s trials and challenges, then questioned the Scotsman.

“Livingstone, you’ve been attacked by wild animals, attacked by slave traders, and in all this, you have only seen one convert. Why?”

Why?

Livingstone responded succinctly, “The love of Christ constraineth me.”

He echoed Paul’s words, albeit in King Jim English. Paul describes a divine impetus to his life mission as an ambassador of Christ and a herald of the message of reconciliation. “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died” (2 Corinthians 5:14).

Livingstone’s dreams of gospel transformation were not realized in his lifetime. Apparently, only one soul professed faith in Christ through the Doctor’s efforts. The singular fruit of Livingstone’s labors was Sechele, chief of the Kwena people of Botswana. However, some of the Scottish pioneer’s missionary peers questioned the authenticity of Sechele’s conversion.

When David Livingstone died, his corpse was shipped to London, and he was laid to rest at Westminster Abbey. His heart was buried in Africa. David Livingstone loved Africa, and he loved Africans. He was “compelled by the love of Christ.”

Love, love, love …

Do you love the people and the place where God has positioned you? Do you love the Seattleites, Vancouverites, Philadelphians, San Franciscans, Calgarians, or Bostonians around you? Do you have a heart for the community that occupies the zip code or postal code where you have planted your gospel flag? Do you have a heart for the misguided, quirky, driven, eccentric, religious, irreligious, artistic, apathetic, promiscuous, delightful, dysfunctional, distracted, broken, self-sufficient, autonomous, idolatrous, and lost people around you? Is your vision for church planting fueled by something grander than presiding over a viable, sustainable, or “successful” (whatever that means) ecclesial enterprise? Where will they bury your heart?

Do you love your town or city like a missionary, or do you simply enjoy your community, consuming its goods, services, and amenities?

Livingstone looked beyond himself and could see “the smoke of a thousand villages” where no missionary had set foot, where the gospel had never been announced, and where The Name above every name was unknown and uncherished. He was compelled by the love of Christ. 

The love of God for a broken cosmos, a runaway planet, populated by a rebel race fueled the divine rescue mission. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God’s relentless and furious love compelled the spotless Son of God to offer up His life on the cross. Octavius Winslow exclaimed, “Who delivered up Jesus to die? Not Judas, for money; not Pilate, for fear; not the Jews, for envy-but the Father, for love!'”

God is looking for people compelled by love to join Him in His mission.

Heavenly Father, I cannot get my head or heart wrapped around the immensity and intensity of Your love. I confess that I don’t live in the power of Your affection for me. Give me a fresh revelation of Your love, pour Your love afresh into my heart and use me as an expression of Your great love. In Jesus’ name, amen.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bill Hogg

Dr. Bill Hogg’s passion is proclaiming the beauty, power, and truth of the good news of Jesus and equipping others to share the gospel. Bill is available as a training resource to inspire, equip, and coach leaders, church plants, and established faith communities to follow Jesus into their respective mission fields. He offers a variety of equipping resources and experiences to help ignite the fires of evangelism. Bill is a former radio host and has served as a pastor, professor, evangelist, and a movie extra! He was involved in pioneer evangelism in his native Scotland where he launched Youth for Christ. He is part of the Arrow Leadership Ministries faculty, offering congregational and Para-church leaders training in evangelism. His doctoral research focused on leadership approaches to the missional renewal of established congregations. Hogg is a published author who has written books on prayer and on youth culture and is currently writing an evangelism primer. Bill is married to his sweetheart, Morag and has two amazing adult kids, Naomi and Peter. Bill and Morag both enjoy being Mackenzie’s grandparents. Demonstrating how ambidextrous he is, Bill enjoys both real football (“soccer” to North American Philistines) and NFL. He is a Man United and Seattle Seahawks fan. Bill and Morag have recently discovered the joy of snow shoe walking. Bill is a movie buff and admits to being a fan of Master Chef and Kitchen Nightmares. He enjoys grocery shopping and browsing in bookstores while savoring gourmet coffee.

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