The need for young men to start churches is greater than any time in history since the beginning of the first church at Jerusalem.
“Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37–38). Laborers are needed, but men must be prepared for the daunting task of church planting.
“And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). Not only are laborers needed, but the right kind of laborers are needed. Men and women who are unprepared can be a detriment instead of a help to the cause of Christ. In light of this need for readiness, when is a young man ready to go out on his own to start a church?
I must confess the plan I first utilized in starting a church several years ago should not be extolled as the most effective method of church planting today. Yet, I did effectively start a church. I would rather a man have a poor plan and make it work than to have a good plan and fail. I am in favor of any plan that is effective. Still, the need for planning and preparation cannot be overstated.
God can use a young man in the ministry immediately upon graduation. Usually, however, young men need mentoring to help them be fully prepared to become the pastor of a church. One of the best ways to gain experience is to join a new ministry where the pastor recently started the church. Offering to work a secular job and help in any way possible as an assistant can be a blessing to all involved. The beginning months and years of a new church is a different experience than working in an established church, and valuable wisdom can be gleaned from a new church ministry that will build confidence and prepare a man to launch out on his own.
Another possible option for a young man is to serve as an assistant pastor on a church staff to gain valuable experience and maturity. Ministry experience is extremely beneficial to a church planter. The Apostle Paul spent several years in relative seclusion learning the disciplines of the Christian life prior to his missionary endeavors. In addition, Moses spent forty years in the desert before he was prepared to lead Israel. I believe God intends for leaders to spend time in preparation.
How will a young man know when the time has come for him to launch out into the field of church planting? I believe it is imperative to submit to his local pastor. No man should attempt to launch out on his own without the blessing of his pastor. A man of God will know when weaknesses remain that could hinder the planting of a new church. It is wise to honestly seek the approval of the pastor and to heed his advice concerning preparedness. One of the biggest mistakes in church planting is the premature commissioning of a man who is unprepared. It is the responsibility of the local church, under the leadership of the pastor, to prepare a man before he is sent out.
The following questions should be reviewed carefully by every prospective church planter:
- How long have you been saved?
- Are you now winning souls?
- Have you successfully completed a Bible training program?
- In what way are you contributing to your home church?
- What have you done to build a Sunday school class or bus route or to build another ministry?
- Do you have any debt?
- Do you have financial support?
- Are both you and your wife spiritually and emotionally stable and prepared for this task?
- Are your wife and children excited about this new step of faith?
- Is your marriage strong and will your marriage set an example to the church family?
- Do you and your wife have Bible based standards and convictions?
- Do you believe you are prepared?
These questions should be answered honestly and humbly. No one should ever start deputation or start a church until all debts are paid and all bills are current. If you can’t pay your bills now, how will you pay them while starting a church? If you can’t win souls now, how will you win souls when starting a church?
No man will ever be totally prepared, and starting a church does require faith; however, many failures can be avoided if men are patient enough to wait upon God. Consecrated prayer should not be the last resort, but it should be the confirming influence when a final decision is made. Much prayer should precede the planting of a New Testament Baptist church. God will give wisdom to those who are willing to seek and do His will.