The DNA of Greatness

The Necessary Traits of a Great Church Planter

It is a scientific wonder how specific traits are passed on from one generation to the next. Although children often look more like one parent than the other, they are a combination of both parent's DNA. DNA is a molecule that carries the genetic code used in the development of all known living organisms; it is a blueprint, a recipe, a code. DNA is found in every cell of our body and contains all the information that makes you “you”. It is amazing that something so microscopic at the very inception of life dictates all that we are.

So it is with the birth of a new church. If we desire to carry on from one generation to the next those specific traits that make us biblically right, then we must follow the blueprint, the recipe, the code. It may seem like a small thing or like a handful of small things, but there is no doubt that these traits contain greatness. They must be in place at the inception of a church in order for it to be all that God intends it to be. If we search for greatness, we find an amazing statement in Matthew 11.

Matthew 11:11a Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist.

When Jesus states this, He is not merely speaking with hyperbole; He is declaring a fact. In this verse He says that there hath not risen a man greater than John. This is an emphatic way of saying that there had never been a greater man than John. He was greatness personified. What can I learn from John? What can I see in his Biblical DNA code? What traits can I carry on with in my generation?


1. Determination and Character

John was not a man from a family of great wealth, nor did he have any education of note. He lacked social appeal and was, generally speaking, a wilderness man. What he did have, however, was character and determination. Jesus makes it clear that he was not a reed shaken in the wind. Rather, he was resolute, unbending, and predictable. He was not a man clothed in soft raiment designed for those of wealth and ceremony. He was a man of a different breed. He was sincere in character, firm in his morality, and specially fitted to endure hardships and trials. He was a man of humility. Even as Christ declared his greatness, John declared his own unworthiness to even loose the shoes of Christ. Church planting requires character, determination, and an ability to remain resolute and steadfast. It requires a readiness to endure trial and hardship as well as an ability to deny yourself, remaining humble. Church planting is not a hobby, nor is it for the faint hearted. Rather, it is a calling that surpasses talent and is a relentless pursuit of the direction and power of God.


2. Uncompromising Message and Doctrine

John could have placated the religious leaders of his day. He could have adapted his message to make it more palatable for his listeners, but when the Pharisees and Sadducees came out to inspect him and hear his message he delivered this to them:

Matthew 3:7b-8a O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance.

When the entire world cowered before Herod’s adultery and granted him a free pass on his immoral marriage to Herodias, John reproved him without fear:

Luke 3:19 But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip's wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done.

The truth is never altered by fear; only the messenger of the truth can be altered by fear. Church planting requires a fearlessness borne of the Spirit of God and a desire to proclaim truth at all costs and to all people. It requires a determination to never alter the truth in order to placate the sinner. We are inundated with churches that would do anything for favor with men. A great church planter seeks only the favor of God which he awards to the obedient.


3. Certain Calling and Direction

John had the privilege of baptizing the Lord Jesus Christ. No prophetic voice had been heard in Israel for about four hundred years. Then, John suddenly arrived on the scene and all of Juedea and the region around the Jordan River came out to hear him preach. John did not stumble into this moment; the Lord had prepared him for it. It has been said that true greatness always matches the right man with the right place at the right time, and obedience to the Lord assures our arrival at that moment. As believers, we do not have to guess about the calling or place or time; we have the Holy Spirit to give us that guidance.  A great church plant requires the direction of God on the calling of the man, the distinguishing of the place, and the timing of the moment.

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