ASK YOURSELF THREE QUESTIONS
People called to church plants are different.
Not better. Not worse. Not more faithful. Not less faithful. Not more extraordinary. Not less extraordinary. People who join church plants aren’t varsity Christians, and people who join established churches aren’t junior varsity Christians. The gospel makes both into mere Christians. In Christ, not only is there neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither varsity nor jv (Galatians 3:28).
People called to church plants are just different: they ask different questions, flourish in different ecosystems, and seek different ways to honor Jesus. Paul was called to “preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else's foundation” (Romans 15:20). Timothy was called to “remain at Ephesus” (1 Timothy 1:3). One was called to go somewhere, one was called to remain somewhere.
Are you called to a church plant?
If you’re reading this blog, you have some curiosity about church planting. Maybe you live in Des Moines, and you’ve been creeping on the vision of Frontier Church for the past few months. Maybe you live elsewhere, and a loose string of links on social media drove you to this blog. Maybe you’re a friend, and you want to know what the heck I’m doing with my life.
But admit it: you have some wonder about church planting. Are you called to a church plant? Make no mistake, people called to church plants are different. Here are three questions that might help guide you towards joining a church plant.
Or away from joining a church plant.
VISION OR REALIZATION: WHICH MAKES ME THRIVE?
When you walk into a church plant, you’re stepping onto a construction worksite. You should cross the yellow tape with a hard helmet, a toolbelt, and a gospel work ethic.
Established churches are, well, established. When you walk into an established church, you’re stepping into a house that’s already been built. For some people, an already existing structure helps them flourish. They immediately have different small group options, they have a full band to sing along with, and they have a building to worship in (that’s probably already been paid off). Sure, the vision of the established church isn’t completed until Jesus returns, but the bulk of it has been realized. Maybe realization makes you thrive, and if this is you, maybe you’re called to join an established church!
But for others, the thought of stepping onto a plot of land with nothing but a shovel is exhilarating. They look at what isn’t and imagine what could be. They don’t look for already existing social structures, they seek to create their own. They don’t seek a realized vision, they seek a raw vision waiting to take on flesh. They don’t look for occupied seats, they look for empty seats and dream to see them filled.
Maybe vision makes you thrive, and if this is you, then you might be called to join a church plant!
HERE OR THERE: WOULD ANYBODY MISS ME?
Lifelong friendships matter to local churches. If the gospel is the main spiritual mechanism by which the church thrives, then Jesus-centered friendships are the main social mechanism by which the church survives: “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). The church marches forward via lifelong friendships that teach lifelong friends to be lifelong friends with Jesus.
But maybe you don’t have any lifelong friendships at your current church. It’s probably not your church’s fault, it’s just that sometimes you find yourself swimming in an ocean of casual relationships. It can be dizzying. In a church this size, folks might not feel your absence on an absent Sunday.
In a church plant, there’s a really, really small bench. If you’ve ever watched an NFL football game, there are more people on the bench than on the field. But church plants begin with small teams, so there are more people on the field than on the bench. In other words, in a church plant, folks will feel your absence on an absent Sunday.
If you left your church, would anybody notice? Maybe you’re called to join a church plant!
TRUE OR UNTRUE: IS CHRISTIANITY THE REAL DEAL?
The beauty of church plants is also the danger of church planting: if church plants don’t grow, they die. They don’t have the luxury of resources and consistent membership to even consider hitting the cruise control button. By this forced necessity, which is probably a grace of God, church plants are extraordinarily extroverted by nature.
If you’re not a Christian, I would encourage you to check out a church plant. Take a moment to contemplate the dynamics of a church plant, and you’ll notice the cards are actually stacked against them: most mature Christians have been and will continue to serve at the same local church they have for the last 20, 30, or 40 years. So without people like you, people with doubts, questions, and curiosity, church plants will inevitably fail. In other words, you have the opportunity to ask earnest questions about Jesus and help a young organization thrive!
You might never have your questions answered satisfactorily, you might never become a church member, and you might never become a Christian. But you will be quickly immersed in a sincere Christian community- human beings imperfectly sharing life together in the landscape of heritage practices like Bible reading, praying together, and confession. This is better than exploring Christianity through social media posts, online forums, and media reports. After all, you can’t understand from the outside something purposed to be lived in from the inside.
Are you asking the question “is Christianity the real deal?” Church plants can’t survive without people like you. Check one out.
Maybe you’re like Paul: called to start. Maybe you’re like Timothy: called to remain. The good news is that both callings are good and from God, and both established churches and church plants are good and from God!
If you’re interested in joining Frontier Church, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.