Note: I am not one who has the role of the Holy Spirit, the gifts, and the supernatural figured out. I have been on a long and difficult journey to figure it out, but I have learned some things along the way in regards to church planting.
I had to confess to my Board and spiritual support family this year that I felt like ministry was becoming almost academic. Meaning it was about getting groups and churches started by simply just the “do it yourself” attitude and following the principles. It is not always like this for me of course. Countless discipleship relationships of mine over the years have started because of something the Holy Spirit started, even supernatural encounters, but I have to constantly check myself to see if I have crossed the line from the Holy Spirit’s guidance to academic and ministry becoming methodical. It hit me once when I went to a church planting conference and many of the successful church planters from all over the world were there. Pretty much everyone there had seen a movement started except for the Americans! That spoke volumes to me and I started to think why this was happening. I began to investigate and interview as many oversees guys as I could. The overwhelming common theme was that MOST church plants were started because of a supernatural miracle, from people having dreams about Jesus to raising the dead. I even grilled the guy who actually prayed for the dead person because I was mystified and highly skeptical that it actually happened. I am sure many of you are doubting that it happened as you read this. That is ok. I remember asking him about his initial reaction when he saw the dead person raised up, just to see if I could catch an inauthentic reaction. His response was certainly authentic. He said he was shocked and then proceeded to say this, “…but you know what? After that I was full of faith and when we reached the next village, I tried again to raise someone from the dead and it didn’t happen. The key is, I was trying to listen to God and be obedient.” He continued to say, “you know brother, I can tell you are searching and that is good. Just keep listening to God.” He said this because he could see my desperation to make church planting happen and that I was overwhelmed because I didn’t think anything like that could happen here in America, but his statement greatly encouraged me. I got my answer. The answer is listening to the Holy Spirit. Allowing Him to work. Realizing that it is Him partnering with me and Him doing the actual work. I am not saying that everything has to be these supernatural miracles, although we should be open to that. Often times God works in a quiet movement of the heart and connects us to the right people, but if I am not letting Him work or relying on my “methodology” alone, then I am not going to see churches planted. This is not to say strategy is not involved. I think it is a common mistake when people only think the Holy Spirit does everything therefore we don’t have to do anything. Strategy is a must. Research and planning is a must. Learning other cultures is a must. But this can all be done by the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
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