Gleanings – Paul’s Guide to Church Planting

Advent 1, December 4, 2012

I Thessalonians 2:1-12

“So we speak, not to please men, but to please God . . . We never used either words of flattery, . . or a cloak of greed, . . But we were gentle among you, like a nurse taking care of her children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the Gospel but also our own selves, . . “

In this short passage we see Paul’s motives and conduct while planting a church among those in Thessalonica. Paul’s pattern has something to teach us. Our planting should be bold, authentic and caring

BOLD – We speak so often these days to tickle ears or bind together what is already homogeneous. Our appeals are to man. While caring, Paul spoke truth in order to please God. As my friend Paul says often, “what you save them with you save them to.” Youth redeemed by coke and pizza and adults redeemed by Gospel lite will want a steady diet of the same. No more bait and switch. No more grace without truth.

AUTHENTIC – We are sowers of seeds not producers of fruit. We are often tempted to use our oratory skills or honed powers of persuasion to produce what God has not produced, at least not yet. Ministry is our living. Success is our identity. Too bad! We must sow and plant with a love that expects nothing in return. God reaps the harvest.

CARING – Being bold and being real does not and should not preclude caring or planting with respect and sensitivity. So many church folk are indignant at the ambivalence toward morality among unbelievers. Why should anyone expect unbelievers to order their lives like believers? By definition they don’t believe what we believe. It serves no one to part ways over morality before we connect over redemption. Secondly, as much as we would like to think we are pursuing what is true, we are not always right. Humility dictates that we acknowledge that people hear the same truth and draw different conclusions or in their Christ given freedom apply the same truth differently in their lives. In certain circles of mine it is too easy to equate the redeemed with the religious right. Truth be told, I have met a lot of folks in the religious right who are likely unredeemed. They are religious. They are conservative. They are not followers of Jesus. Personally, the Gospel makes me conservative, the paleo-orthodox kind, in some ways and liberal, the believing love and not law transforms, in others. Do we care/love enough to hang with who folks have no interest in what we are selling? Do we have images of Jesus sending or driving people away? In the face of the rich young ruler’s misplaced confidence in the life he has lived, Jesus loved him.

If we want to plant something that will withstand the test of time, we would do well to be bold, authentic, and caring, in our endeavors to establish a church. Unless the Lord builds, . .


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