Over recent weeks, I have had the opportunity to have conversations with different men who have expressed a sense of God’s call on their life to plant churches. I have to tell you, this is one of those things that really gets me excited. Seeing God work by calling men and their families to plant churches has become a great joy of mine!I think this joy stems from the fact that my family and I have been right where these people are in life. We have wrestled with the idea of giving up everything we have found comfort in to start something new. We have had conversations about the financial struggle that could lie ahead of us. We have seen the Holy Spirit work in spite of us and call people to follow Christ, join in the mission and multiply disciples. We have faced those awkward “weekly gatherings” where only 3 people have shown up. We have felt overwhelmed (and still do often) with the reality that God wants to use us for His glory in this particular way and at this particular season in life.
One question that I always feel drawn to ask these men as these discussions take place is, “Is God calling you to this?” Through my experience, I feel this is the most important question to answer when it comes to church planting. But, really all people must consider this question. So, let us consider this question in three different ways:
First, if you are reading this and are unsure of your relationship with Christ, I ask you, “Is God calling you to a relationship with Him?” This question is so important to answer. God created us to be in relationship with Him. His original intent was to be in perfect communion with us. When sin entered the picture, that perfect relationship was broken. Now, we find ourselves in our current situation. According to scripture, “We all have sin” (Romans 3:23). God has made a way for us to be reconciled back to Him. He sent Christ, as a gift of love, to come and take our punishment on the cross. This was done so that you and I could have that relationship restored. Baptism did not restore our relationship. Speaking in tongues does not restore our relationship. Attending church, living a moral life, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked…none of that restores our relationship with God. The only way it is restored is through a relationship with Christ. Therefore, if you are reading this, I hope you ask yourself, “Is God calling me to a relationship with Him?” And, as I write, I am praying you say “YES!”
Second, if you are reading this and you have a relationship with Christ, I ask, “Is God calling you to live your life for Christ”? To be completely transparent, I do not believe that this is even debatable. I believe that throughout His word, God calls us to live for Him. When we become a Christ-follower, He fills us with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit then empowers us for mission (Acts 1:8). Therefore, if you have surrendered to Christ, God has filled you with the Holy Spirit to empower you for mission. It truly is that simple. If you are redeemed by God, you are called to live on mission for Him! This means that our life is no longer about us. It is all for God’s glory. I am constantly reminded of this in the following text:
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.” (1 Corinthians 10:31–33, ESV)
Third, if you are reading this and you are a follower of Christ, you understand your general call to live your entire life for God’s glory, I ask, “Is God calling you to a specific calling?” In other words, is God calling you to pastor, plant a church, lead the youth, work in children’s ministry, start a para-church organization, etc…? I am convinced this is the hardest calling to discern. It is this calling that we have a tendency to lose clarity on. See, this calling may (or may not) lead you to quit a comfortable, well paying job, to go plant a church in the middle of an unchurched urban area in New York City. This calling may lead you to get out of the normal church routine, sacrifice your “normal Sunday worship” and devote that time to teaching 6 and 7 years olds about the Gospel. This calling will press you to ask God to reveal how you are gifted to be for His glory. This calling truly is troubling. But, it is a calling we must consider!
So, what is God’s calling on your life? To be reconciled to Him? He sent Christ to make that possible. To live a life surrendered to Him? He filled us with the Holy Spirit to give power to do this! To follow Him in a specific calling? I can not answer that for you. But, I hope you will consider that now! Trust Christ with your life. Let the Holy Spirit strengthen your everyday mission. Ask God, “What specifically are you calling me to do?” And when you do this, I’m telling you from experience, the joy of the Lord will be your song!