Today we continue our chapter-by-chapter blog discussion of the book Church Planting is For Wimps. For those of you who may have just been browsing so far, it is not too late to join in! Simply pick up a copy of the book and start reading. And if you missed last week’s post, please read it first.
Now we come to Chapter 2. After talking about his decision to plant a church with Mark Dever and Capitol Hill Baptist Church in the last chapter, he moves on to discuss how they went about determining their approach to this new work. Mike would begin by spending a couple of years on staff at CHBC, working through the process of their church plant. This included Mike meeting with members who may be interested in church planting, meeting with other church planters and pastors in the area where they were going to plant, and building credibility with the congregation by becoming more involved in the church’s public teaching and preaching.
They ultimately decided to start a gospel work about forty-five minutes outside Washington DC (where CHBC is located). But this still left them with one major question. Mike explains:
“The last thing to determine was whether we would plant an altogether new church or have the planting team join an existing church in order to revitalize it. Church planting (starting a congregation from scratch) and church revitalizing (reviving the ministry of an almost dead church) share the same goal: raising up a faithful gospel witness where none exists. Both have a unique opportunity to grow by attracting people not currently attending a church and to bring fresh energy to the proclamation of the gospel in a particular community” (30-31).
While understanding the validity and need of church planting, they eventually decided on church revitalization. For the rest of the chapter, Mike explains the advantages and disadvantages of either choice. Next up? They had to find a church that was a good candidate for revitalization.
I admit that like Mike, I am personally attracted to church revitalization. Maybe it is because I have noticed a strong interest in church planting among my fellow seminary graduates while the idea of church revitalization seems to be neglected. Maybe it is because I have met a lot of dear saints in small churches who have been praying for a revival in their church and community. Maybe it is because I would love to see God working through the challenge of revitalization for His glory. Regardless, I appreciate it when Mike remarks:
“That’s why a number of my friends have joked from time to time that church planting is for wimps. There are challenges to setting up a new general store in a dusty cowboy town when none exists, to be sure. But the sheriff who has to ride in and clear out a town’s trash before building starts—he’s the real man” (34).
I don’t see myself as a sheriff (nor am I a fan of Westerns!). And I have no idea what God has in store for my future ministry. But I agree with Mike when he writes:
“Is church planting for wimps? Well, planting and revitalizing take different kinds of courage, and God appoints a particular task for ever y man. Go where God guides you. . . . I believe revitalizing may be more difficult at the outset, but I also believe that it offers all the rewards of planting—a new gospel witness—and more: it removes a bad witness in the neighborhood, it encourages the saints in the dead church, and it puts their material resources to work for the kingdom” (36-37).
What do you think?
Member, Heritage Baptist Church
M.Div. The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary