Two weeks after graduating from West Coast Baptist College, our family set out on a year of deputation to raise money to start a church in Honolulu. All we had was a vision in our hearts of a church that would love people and introduce them to Jesus. We couldn’t have imagined all God had in store for our family and our city.
As we’re coming up on the third anniversary of Huikala Baptist Church, it’s been amazing to look back and see God’s hand at work every step along the way. So far this year, we’ve seen twenty-nine people saved, eighteen baptized, six complete discipleship, and dozens more making real, tangible decisions to take their walk with Jesus to the next level.
As we began preparations to plant Huikala Baptist Church, I read dozens of books on church planting, subscribed to blogs and podcasts, and became a student of other successful and unsuccessful church plants. I pored over the words of Jesus, looked for principles of church planting from the book of Acts, and carefully dissected Paul’s guidance to these infant churches and his direction to these young pastors.
While we’re still a young church, God has shown us what He uses to build His church. For all of the cool new methods for reaching people, for all of the Facebook online Bible studies, for all of the Twitter campaigns and social media marketing, we’ve found three things that REALLY work.
1. Love People
It’s the defining mark of followers of Jesus. As a new church plant, we wanted so badly to get people in the door, that we sometimes forgot to love people well. Getting people in the door is short-sighted, but loving people is the long game. While I want to get the guy from my gym to church this Sunday, maybe I should take more time loving him, developing a relationship with him, and showing him what a real follower of Jesus does. Loving people takes time, investment and consistency.
2. Share Jesus
Honolulu is a mostly unchurched city and home to one of the largest Buddhist populations in the United States. We come across people every day who don’t know Jesus. People have said that soulwinning can’t work in a city like ours. It’s too culturally diverse. It’s too difficult. People aren’t responsive. Our streets have no commercial/residential distinction—soulwinning maps aren’t as cut and dried as other cities with neighborhoods. However, I’ve found that the gospel works if we work the gospel. It was a relief to come to terms with the fact that I’m not responsible for the results, just for being obedient. We have tens of thousands of doors in our city that have never been knocked on a single time. By the grace of God, we’re going to change that, one door at a time.
3. Preach the Word
Our city has churches on just about every block. Finding a meeting location was tough, as every community center, school cafeteria and even some restaurants have one or more churches meeting in them on Sundays. We’re in Hawaii, so we thought we’d just set up chairs in the park near the beach, but found that every park had churches in them on Sundays! However, two things set us apart from just about every other church in our city—doctrine and expository Bible-preaching. People in our city (and I suspect yours too) are starved for the Bible. The Word encourages, challenges, rebukes, corrects, and points people to Jesus. If I’m faithful to preach the Word, the Word does all of the work for me.
When we started Huikala, I wanted to find the silver bullet that would launch our church strong from the beginning. We looked into a community barbecue, jumpers for kids in the parks, tens of thousands of mailers, aggressive social media campaigns, community scavenger hunts, and other creative (and mostly unproven) ways for reaching out to our city. In the end, we just went door-to-door, developed relationships with people at the store, talked with moms at the bus stops, took gifts to our neighbors, and just tried to love people, share Jesus and preach the Word. And that has made all of the difference.