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, chapter 2, chapter 3, and chapter 4.
Before Mike was called as Pastor of Guilford Fellowship, the church asked a consultant to assess their situation and give recommendations. Given the changing demographics of those living around the church, one option was to disband and allow a Spanish-speaking church plant to have the church building. While they didn’t go in this direction, as Mike points out, God will always get his way. And his way at Guilford is to love and reach the Spanish-speaking community that surrounded them.
So how did it happen? Mike quickly saw the need for a Spanish ministry and began to pray. God answered by having a married couple who are native Spanish speakers join their church. This man became quite a gifted evangelist and teacher, and he began to lead more and more in an evangelistic Bible study. As the Lord continued to bless this group, Guilford recognized the need for them to have their own local congregation. God once again answered their prayers by providing an experienced pastor from El Salvador.
Not to say that this outreach has been easy for Mike and the church. Most of the Spanish community is nice and law-abiding. But there are also gangs, graffiti, and other challenges. Nevertheless, the church was willing to “step up to the plate” and begin preaching to gang members, illegal immigrants, prostitutes, and others. This has led to Mike’s insistence of reaching out to the poor and the destitute, to the outcasts and the downtrodden.
Their Spanish ministry has also allowed them to show the love of Christ to the community, which has become heavily alienated between their neighborhood’s English-speaking and Spanish-speaking populations. Guilford continues to support and maintain good relations with the Spanish church, striving to communicate and live out the power of the gospel.
As Mike concludes:
“We don’t need to make a ton of plans and strategies for how we are going to reach the world. God is more passionate about spreading his gospel than we are. We only need to be passionate about following his lead and trusting him for his provision” (84).
This truth is so simple, but so often overlooked. I have seen churches that plan, program, and strategize to death. But what we need most is to live our lives more and more in light of the gospel.
I was most challenged when Mike wrote:
“The Bible teaches that the gospel will find its warmest welcome among the poor and destitute, the outcasts and the downtrodden. The riches of the world powerfully tempt us to trust in them for our well-being…. So if you are planning on planting a church, consider swinging at the low-hanging fruit, as one of my seminary professors put it. Think about ways that your church can reach out to those whose station in life might make them more aware of their need for Christ. Consider making your housing choices accordingly, even if it means living in conditions that might not excite your mother-in-law” (80-81).
Am I willing to do this? Even when I have a family with several young children? May the Lord grant me the strength to do his will!
But now it is your turn. Thoughts?
Member, Heritage Baptist Church
M.Div. The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary