Recently I was asked by a dear brother in the Lord to write on a few reasons someone should go and be a core team member of a planting church. I will never forget the first family who told me they would be coming with us to plant Mercy Hill Church. They caught us after service and said, “We want to come and be a part of what y’all are doing in Olive Branch.” My soul was filled with joy because up until this point it was just Beth and me. As we walked to the car I looked over at Beth and said, “Well they’re crazy.” Who in the world would want to leave an established church that has multiple staff people and functioning children and student ministries to come and meet on astroturf (seriously), set-up pipe and drape backdrops weekly, and listen to a 27-year-old preach. Turns out there are people who are this crazy. But I’m not so sure its insanity as much as it is a unique drive brought about by a particular God-given zeal.
That being said, I’d like to share three reasons you should consider going with a church plant as a core team member and offer you one warning.
1) You Love the Vision
Church planters have a goal. Their goal is, or at least should be, driven by what that Bible teaches us about the New Testament Church. Mercy Hill was planted on Acts 2:42. I told everyone that expressed interest in our church that I only desired to do four things well: Preach, pray, fellowship, and administer the ordinances. We were founded on an understanding of a simple church that excelled in what God delights in most. I said this over and over again. I remember sitting in house after house being drilled with questions (One family had a list of 100, I kid you not). Interestingly, the people who asked those hard, nitty-gritty questions are all still at Mercy Hill. People wanted to understand the vision of the church, and as they understood it, some who expressed interest instantly turned away, others leaned in and leaned in hard, and to this day are pillars of our church.
You must understand the vision before you can love it, and hopefully the vision that you love most is the one that is most clearly informed by the Bible. Do you understand the vision? Do you love the vision? Then go and fight for it.
2) You love the Gospel
This one is obvious or at least it should be. Every Bible believing Christian loves the gospel. The reason I want this one to be explicit is because the gospel has been and will continue to be the only way that God builds His church. I had countless people bring various suggestions for growth at Mercy Hill. “Let’s have a rocking music ministry!” “Children’s ministry that’s fun and engaging, we can call it Mercy Mound (Get it….).” The list goes on, and still to this day I have people ask about Mercy Hill’s outreach, and I always respond the same way. I tell them story after story after story of the membership of Mercy Hill faithfully sharing the gospel in their day to day life. This morning I sat in a house with three people who had just lost a loved one and even there I listened as they told me about their gospel witness that had taken place just 24 hours prior. You know who does consistent faithful outreach? Children of God who love the Savior. They will not be silent; they will proclaim. What is it that the church plant needs? Faithful, gospel-loving people who cannot be silent about that gospel.
Do you love the gospel of God? Do you proclaim it in your day to day life and long to see souls added to the kingdom by that proclamation? Praise be to God! Go and evangelize, and be an aid in establishing a new local church by the souls converted through your evangelism.
3) You love to Plod
There is a draw to church planting for those who love adventure. These people are always wanting something new or fresh. They are the ones who will come out of the gate swinging. They will labor hard and have a great deal of zeal early on in the process of planting, but normally they won’t last. Adventure is appealing, but plodding is the labor most fruitful to a church plant.
Plodding is that labor that knows the great commission as a lifelong process that can only be fulfilled by faithfully taking step after step. It also understands that God builds His church in His time. Again, this assumes that you love the gospel and love the vision of the church set out by the Scriptures. If you can plod in gospel proclamation and if you can plod to see a biblical ecclesiology brought to fruition by the faithful labor of the saints empowered by the Spirit, then go and faithfully plod as a core team member of a church plant. Go and plod alongside brothers and sisters in the faith to the glory of God.
I would remind you of one thing: Plodding is not likely to be easy. However, plodding with a church plant has the potential to continue to bear fruit long after you have gone to be with the Lord. Prayerfully, every church planted will outlast every church planter and every core team member. We faithfully plod hoping that the fruit produced will be lasting and vast.
There are many bad reasons to go with a church plant, but the one I see most frequently is the charisma or likability of the lead planter. Many see the church planter and think “He is young; he is charismatic; he is different.” A church planter is a man and nothing more. If you decide to go with a planter because you find the planter particularly charismatic it will not be long before you make your way out of the door. The church isn’t built on men; the church is built on Christ and should you believe otherwise you will contribute to one of the greatest dangers of the American church, personality worship. Remember, the purpose of planting a church is to plant a local body of Jesus Christ. A body isn’t made up of just a foot, hand, eye, ear, or mouth. It is necessary to have every part for the body to function appropriately. If I were to consider going with a church planter today, I would ask myself this question, “Do I like the idea of going with this man, or do I love the idea of going and growing with this body?”
So if you’re wrestling with becoming part of a core team of a church plant, ask yourself if you love the vision, the gospel, and faithful plodding. If the answer is yes, go.