This is my first attempt in years at recording what I’m learning and what I think about a book, so forgive me, dear reader, for being a bit rusty. My goal for this particular book is to not only write what I’ve learned from it but also my reasoning behind reading the book, which I’d like to start with.
Until recently, I’ve not really known what God called me to. He called me at the young age of 16 to a life of ministry, but until now, I didn’t know if that was worship ministry, youth ministry, senior pastor – and then, assuming a church or planting it – men’s ministry, small group ministry, children’s ministry, some of it, all of it, etc. And to this point, I’ve done some of each of these, but hadn’t sensed a confirmation from God that one or the other was the “right one.” But earlier this year, I got a job working in Lexington, KY, in an incredible coffee house that fosters such a unique community and is very much in touch with the pulse of the city. A love for Lexington has been birthed in me, and, when combined with the dream my pastor/spiritual father had years ago of Foursquare churches being planted up and down I-75, has started to illuminate a path of church planting.
My biggest struggle (as I will undoubtedly discuss further as we get further into the book) with church planting is that I don’t know much of anything about it. So when I tell people I want to plant a church, I hope I don’t get questions about what that’ll look like, or timelines or anything, because all I can say is “I don’t know.”
But while that’s a struggle, I also choose to view it as a strength. One of the things I’ve discovered is that everyone thinks they have church planting figured out – they think they know exactly how to raise funds; when to go public with services; how to preach (!); who’s who in the core team; where and when to meet, etc. Everyone seems to have a different formula, but it almost seems like everyone’s formula, though different, is the only formula that works. Which, logically speaking, is impossible. So I consider it a blessing that I’m a clean slate, because I have this understanding that there’s no one way to do it, so it gives me room and space to figure out what’ll work when I plant a church. Does that make any kind of sense?
Anyway, this seemed like a very basic book on church planting that dealt less with the methodology and more with the core issues about what a church planter should be like (man,) what he’s there for (mission,) and what he preaches (message.) Hence, I chose this book.
Chapter 1 deals with the need of a church planting man to be a rescued man. At first, admittedly, I thought this was an odd thing to deal with, because I couldn’t see how anyone who wasn’t saved (rescued) wanting to plant a church. But Darrin puts out well how this interesting dynamic is created. First, it’s possible for a man to have charisma and not a calling (makes sense that I didn’t pick up on this since the opposite is true for me!) Men can be gifted speakers and even decently gifted leaders, but when they themselves are not saved, it becomes disastrous. The spiritual condition of a pastor will ultimately be passed down onto his congregation. At the core of that issue is that a man will try to manufacture a calling or disregard the lack of a calling because he is trying to save himself. That is, some men become convinced that they must do great things for God in order to be accepted and favored by God, and think that pastoring a church is the ultimate service they can do for God, so regardless of a calling, they will seek to do so.
The heart of this chapter is summed up in this quote:
Though God sometimes mercifully uses preachers with false motives (self-salvation,) the church under such a pastor generally suffers spiritually, communally, and missionally, and it eventually withers and dies.
It’s important that a church is pastored by a man who God has rescued and who has been reborn. A man secure in his salvation will lead a church of people who become secure in their salvation. Leadership is predictive of a church’s health, and salvation, while seemingly fundamental, is incredibly important. Chapter 2 discusses calling.