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. If you have missed the previous posts, please read my thoughts on chapter 1 and chapter 2.
In our latest reading, Mike moves to Washington DC in preparation for revitalizing a church in the area. On his first day at CHBC, someone tells him of a struggling church in Sterling, Virginia. Open to the possibility that this church is an answer to prayer, Mike contacts Guilford Fellowship for an opportunity to preach.
Let’s just say that this visit did not go very well. Everything was wrong, from the location and grounds to the carpet and plumbing. The worship service was small, unorganized, and included people not actually there to worship God. Mike even mentions two teenagers publically displaying affection in the back pew throughout the service, including his sermon! Everyone from CHBC left thinking that this church was too far gone. Everyone except Mike’s wife.
His wife’s intuition ultimately proved correct. CHBC realized that the area’s economic and real estate environment meant this church was their best option. And the church came to recognize Mike as their best pastoral candidate. He became their pastor on June 1, 2005.
Given all of the immediate problems, challenges, and issues of Guilford Fellowship, what did Mike believe their greatest need was?
“Let me suggest an answer that may not be immediately apparent: the one thing that Guilford Fellowship needed most from its new pastor was to have God’s Word preached in a clear, systematic, and compelling way” (47).
Did he replace toilets, put down new floors, pull weeds, and spread gravel? Sure. But he would only complete this work after taking care of his primary responsibility to preach and teach God’s Word. Thus, Mike concludes his chapter with three enemies which can keep church planters and pastors from keeping the Word of God central.
I am so thankful and encouraged to read about Mike’s firm commitment to the centrality of Scripture. It is so easy to begin thinking about all that we need to do so that our church will be successful, slowly trusting in ourselves. But God’s way is simple: preach the Word; let Christ build His kingdom. As Mike says:
“You preach and people get saved to God’s glory, or their so-called ‘wisdom’ is confounded and you look like a moron, also to God’s glory” (51).
Am I willing to look like a moron? Am I willing to appear foolish for my Savior? Am I prepared to faithfully preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles (1 Corinthians 1:23)? I appreciate Mike providing three enemies of Word centered ministry, recognizing that I must assess my heart in light of them.
What about you?
Member, Heritage Baptist Church
M.Div. The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary