Thinking about Church Planting?

Church planting is the "in" thing right now, so "in" that there are whole new businesses being set-up for it, consultants who are making a living off sharing their ideas and experience and a whole lot of books and blogs, too numerous to name. As much as I get tempted to pass on my "opinions", this doesn't seem the right place. What I will tell you is some of my story and let you know, for all you think you know, for all the books you read and people you talk to, church planting isn't "all that and a bag of chips." It is tears, work, prayer, sweat, love, passion, family, pain, more prayer, more faith than you'll ever have and all the grace God can give.

When I began my faith journey as a Junior in High School, I offered to God my life to use how He would. It seemed the right way. It was the way God continued to open doors and lead. Through College and on to Seminary, God's grace opened doors and I continued to grow in my faith and trust in God.

In the midst of dealing with cancer and depression in 2000, I sensed God's leading in a new way. I began exploring new possibilities and felt God calling me to seek ordination as a Deacon in the United Methodist. I knew God wanted me to be a youth minister so it wouldn’t make any sense to be ordained as an Elder and possibly be appointed as a pastor! But then one night in August of 2003, I woke in the night and wrote down on paper the vision for a new church.

I can tell you this rocked my world. It may seem to you a short step from a youth pastor to an ordained Elder but for me it was more like trying to leap the Grand Canyon. But I had to do something.

For Heather and I it was a retelling of Abraham and Sarah. It was and is a journey of faith. I remember clearly the evening when Heather said to me, “I didn’t want to be a pastor’s wife.” To this I responded from my heart, “that makes two of us cause I didn’t want to be a pastor.” We begin at that point to reflect on where we would go…
By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. (Hebrews 11:8, 11-12 NASB)

In 2006 I was appointed to Due West UMC in Marietta with the plan to start a new United Methodist Church in neighboring Paulding County, percentage wise, one of the top 10 fastest growing counties in the U.S. It is an area dominated by young families but with minimal infrastructure, many feel disconnected. The majority of families are not connected to any church.

This new church will begin in 2008. No, we don’t have a building and we don’t have land. Our team of leaders is just beginning to form. Some of them are neighbors and some, new friends from Due West. Acworth UMC is not far and the pastor and church have felt God’s leading to partner with the start of this new church to help people connect, follow and become disciples.

Make no mistake, this is an adventure in what Authentic Faith is all about. “Do something,” writes Oswald Chambers, “the test of faith is in not doing.” Starting a church is the call to do something. It is the conviction that God desires a new church in this land where He sent us. A church where disconnected people become connected. It is for children and families who don't know what a pastor does. It is for families who are looking for a church, looking for God, looking for people of Authentic Faith.

What is amazing to me is how quickly you begin to fall in love with the people you get connected to. It is exciting and humbling to see new friends take ownership and share the concern for what is happening. Thinking about church planting? Great, but be sure to do more than think, start on your knees in prayer, then do something.

May I Ask: What has been your impressions of church planting?

May I Suggest: Do some searches and read some blogs from church planters. Share what you learn here.


John said...

I think that our denomination needs to engage in church planting much more aggressively than it is presently. And it should fund this effort by shutting down and liquidating churches that refuse to grow.

The Gospel has to keep on the move. I salute the wonderful work that you do, Ken.

Ken L. Hagler said...

Thanks for the comment and I concur with your take on church planting. What concerns me is how who and how we direct that more aggressive approach.

Anonymous said...

Ken, God's blessing upon you and the pilgrims setting out with you. May the seas not swallow you whole and may the promised land be full of friendly natives.

(I guess Columbus Day and Thanksgiving are on my mind.)

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