I want to let you in on a secret, writes Gary Gibbs
You don’t need to be an ordained Elim minister in order to plant a church. Many have presumed this to be the case, but it never has been, nor will it ever be so.
Right now, there are a number of non-ordained planters doing amazing pioneering ministry.
I’m sure you have heard of the biblical doctrine called ‘the priesthood of all believers’.
In the Bible Peter writes: “...you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light,” (1 Peter 2:9).
The role of a priest was to represent the people to God and to represent God to the people: for us, this means prayer and evangelism.
So, can you answer these few questions with a ‘yes’?
Do you love lost people? Are you in good standing with your present church? Would you like to go on an adventure with God?
If your answers are in the affirmative, I would really like to talk to you.
Now your immediate thought might be that you could never plant a church.
Well, that depends... some time ago I was asked to speak to a group of Elim ministers about church planting.
I started by explaining that there was a challenge with the two words ‘church’ and ‘planting’ because we tend to default to what has been our historical practice and to what we perceive church to look like.
Traditionally our approach has been to start a service in a rented building and hope and pray that, with advertising, people will come along and join us.
Often we would have a mission or campaign early on to raise profile and to reach the community. Generally speaking, in a post-Christian world, this methodology is becoming increasingly ineffective.
Even when we succeed in gathering people, the majority will be believers transferring from existing churches in the area. There are occasions when this approach brings some success, but it’s the exception these days.
So what else is possible?
Well, if we release our ‘missional imagination’ the possibilities are many.
How about if you are a Christian couple who have recently moved into a new housing area? Could you plant the gospel into the lives of some of your new friends and neighbours?
What about if you ran an Alpha course with four people who didn’t know Jesus and they all got saved? In less than three months you would have an Elim house church.
What about if, say, half a dozen believing friends decided to embark on a two-year project and rented a large house, all took part-time jobs and blasted out a new work.
Alongside our established churches there is room for a mushrooming of micro-churches which are organic, flexible and quickly reproducible.
This ‘mixed economy’ is a way forward.
One last thing... Jesus said he will build his church; we are called to make disciples. In other words, to get alongside those who are not Jesus-followers and accompany them on a journey whereby they encounter the Lord and grow into fruitful disciples.
This was why during lockdown I wrote the book ‘The Discipleship Life-style: How disciples develop disciples’. It’s available from me or on Amazon here. I think you’ll find it helpful.