As we continue this expedition to build the foundation for a church planting culture, we have so far unpacked several obstacles. This journey began challenging churches and their leadership to face your fears, and our resentence to change. Biblical vision and values need to be aligned. So, now we are ready to go run off and do something revolutionary for God, right? Not quite. Anytime we want to do something bold for God, the enemy Satan wags his finger and says not on my turf. The unbelieving culture we plan to plant this new church in will fight tooth and nail to resist. This past week I revisited Revelations 12 as a reminder of how Satan views the offspring (Christ and later Christians) of the woman (Mary, the mother of our Lord.)
“And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” Revelations 12:13-17
Because Satan is not rooting for your current church or any future mission endeavors to succeed, it is the task of the leadership team to be spiritually prepared for the slings and arrows of the Evil One. Here is a true story from a Christian leader that will explain what I am saying.
A Christian leader — we’ll call him Steve –was traveling recently by plane. He noticed that the man sitting two seats over was thumbing through some little cards and moving his lips. The man looked professorial with his goatee and graying brown hair, and Steve placed him at fifty-something. Guessing the man was a fellow-believer, Steve leaned over to engage him in conversation. “Looks to me like you’re memorizing something,” he said. “No, actually I was praying,” the man said. Steve introduced himself. “I believe in prayer too,” he said. “Well, I have a specific assignment,” said the man with the goatee. “What’s that?” Steve asked. “I’m praying for the downfall of Christian pastors.” “I would certainly fit into that category,” Steve said. “Is my name on the list?” “Not on my list,” the man replied. – Common Ground, Vol. 10 No. 7.
Our best example of early church planters was a group of believers that gathered together regularly and prayed. Early in the Book of Acts, we see that pattern established. “42 The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. 43 A sense of awe came over everyone. God performed many wonders and signs through the apostles.” Acts 2:42-43
Build your new mission plant on prayer. Raising up a group of people to be prayer intercessors confronts the enemy on God’s terms.
Connecting to people outside the God’s grace is a passion of mine and is my calling in ministry. If you share this desire to plant a church or ministry that connects with people outside of the body of Christ, then stick with me as I devote time over the next several months laying out how to develop that team in further detail. However, here are some fundamental qualities to look for in that development.
First, you can’t lead people where you are have not gone beforehand. Make your first prayer intercessor, YOU! Second, make sure you and your team are on the same page. That place of unity is grounded not on the leaders’ agenda, but on the guidance and direction of God’s Word. Third, a Prayer Ministry Leader should be identified to lead and shepherd the group. It doesn’t have to be a paid staff person, but should be someone with the spiritual gifts for that ministry. Finally, pray and ask God to send laborers to partner with you in this new church plant. Pray for discernment to select who will be an appropriate fit for your core leadership team.
Next week’s post will dig deeper into the formation of the intercessory prayer team. Thank you for all who have been reading and following. I can sense the movement of God leading and directing churches to get more rooted in the mission entrusted to His saints.
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