The following is an excerpt from one of our church planting emails from April 2019 when we launched our plan to plant a church in Essex County in the next 3-5 years. As we start a new semester it is good to remind ourselves of this goal and to engage with what it will mean for us as a church to carry out this task.
At this early stage of church planting everything is new and uncertain. There are lots of questions and thoughts that are still being processed. No doubt there are risks to committing to this path, we named many of them at our meetings and certainly more will come to mind! That is why at this stage we especially need to be convinced of our conviction “Take Risks”.
At first listen this conviction sounds more reckless than wise. In our lives we try to minimize risk as much as possible, so why are we embracing it here? Well, consider times in your life where you can say risk has been a good option. We take risks when there is a great prize to be won, we take risks when it is too perilous not to, and we take risks for the people we love – Asking someone on a date, taking medication, protecting loved ones from danger.
I think all three of these reasons to risk, Prize, Peril, and Love, can be applied to church planting, but in this email I want to focus on love.
Risk because of love
The apostle Paul said,
“It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:20–21)
Paul’s love for Christ is so evident, and his desire to see him glorified caused him to dedicate his life wholeheartedly to joining in Christ’s mission to the world.
We are not taking risks in church planting to receive the prize of an expanded NSCBC brand, or to satisfy personal longings for adventure. These are not worth taking risks for. But church planting because we love Christ and want to bring glory to him, that sounds like a risk worth taking!
“There are a thousand ways to magnify Christ in life and death. None should be scorned. All are important. But none makes the worth of Christ shine more brightly than sacrificial love for other people in the name of Jesus. If Christ is so valuable that the hope of his immediate and eternal fellowship after death frees us from the self-serving fear of dying and enables us to lay down our lives for the good of others, such love magnifies the glory of Christ like nothing else in the world.” Risk is Right, John Piper, p.15
It is important for us to remember that church planting is a sacrificial love for other people who don’t yet know Jesus, and a sacrificial love like this “magnifies the glory of Christ like nothing else in the world.”
As we think about the risks that face us and the love for Christ that drives us, we realize our great need to pray. This is how all of us participate in church planting at this stage. Below are a few suggestions of things to pray for in the next few weeks.
Praise God for his glory shown to us in Christ.
Pray that God would grow in our whole church a greater desire to see Christ glorified in all areas of our lives.
Pray that we would be able to say “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Bring to God any specific church planting risks that worry you.
Sign Up for Church Planting Prayer and Updates Email
Sign up here to be on our email list to receive prayer requests and updates on church planting in Essex County.