Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Time to Plant, by Mike Musser

Why plant a church? Why now? I wrestled with these difficult questions as an Elder. "Is this the RIGHT direction?" I pondered.

I have never been involved in a Church Plant before, nor have I known someone closely who has. I have seen Church Plants open and then close some months later. I have heard about churches that ‘feed’ the sermon in from their ‘parent church’. These things all create for me a stereotype that is not too favorable. So then enters the question above, like an elephant in the room…

As the Elder board began to adapt and re-form with the addition of Jim Venable and myself, we began to learn of East Hills’ historical desire to plant a church. Could that still be the vision for East Hills? We as an elder board pondered that along with other items. We were interested and intrigued by the thought of ‘church planting’ in general. We had someone who oversees church planting in the Northwest, Randy Shaw, come and share with us some of the answers that he and others have found to be significant to the church planting questions ‘what does is look like?’ and ‘why do it?’. It was informative and made sense, but I didn’t get that gut-wrenching sense of urgency for us to rush out and plant a church.

So where are we now? I myself am compelled to pursue it! I feel that my heart has been changed. I have had such a burden for the people of Kelso/Longview, both saved and unsaved. I feel strongly that GROWTH, both corporately and individually is what is on God’s heart for us in the coming or maybe just arriving season. Of course the word, GROWTH, to me just begs the thought of something having to be ‘planted’ first. What does God grow in our lives without first planting a ‘seed’: a thought, a vision, a dream, a word? And what would we ‘plant’ without the same?

The seeds
I feel very strongly about two Bible passages that have pierced my heart when we have discussed ‘church planting’. They are the ‘seeds’ that I feel that God has planted in my heart and mind that he caused to grow and that have changed my thoughts and opinions.
The first passage is the Parable of the ten minas (Luke 19:11), in which the ruler entrusted money to his servants with the expectation that they would invest or increase it. How great the deposit, not just in our money in the bank, but in all things God has given to East Hills Alliance. Shall we just hold fast? Shall we just hold tight to what we have now? I yearn to say ‘Let’s make gain for our King from this deposit that he has entrusted us with!’ I would even hope for more than just the one doubling in time.
The other passage is the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1), in which God forced people to build out rather than up. How can that relate to church planting? Our natural tendencies lead us to the idea of building up. God’s intention for us is to foster the idea of building out. Not only did confusing the language stop the upward excess, it made it necessary for us to look outside of those close to us and seek out those who even speak a different language than we do. Let’s choose not to only build up East Hills Alliance… Let’s build out into the neighboring area(s)… If God’s desire is the reaching of all the world, why aren’t we excited to ‘extend our tent’ and take the ground he has for us by planting a church in this soil so near to us?

I heard all the logical reasons, and they ‘made sense’, but I have found what is useful in my head rarely excites a change in my heart. It is now dominant in my heart that GROWTH is the direction that God is leading, and PLANTING is the work I long to be a part of.

No comments: