The Greatest Asset to Effective
Church Planting in Urban Areas
What would be the greatest asset to effective church planting? Some might say adequate funding for salary and start-up costs. Others might say choosing a fast growing and perhaps upper middle class area would be the greatest benefit. Still others might claim that a qualified team to work with you would be the greatest advantage. Though these assets may be helpful to the urban church planter, I do not believe any of them even come close to the greatest and most dynamic asset that will launch you into a blessed ministry.
Other than the power of God and the Word of God, I believe your greatest asset is becoming a man or woman of faith. Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please him.” God desires each of his ministers to trust him and to live out that faith day in and day out.
My son, who is planting a church in the inner city of Chicago, went to his rented school building for his Sunday services only to have his portable sound equipment stolen out of the van. He had launched his Sunday services only a few weeks earlier. What a discouragement this was to many in his small fellowship. My son was able to remind them that there was no need for discouragement; God is in charge and would provide their needs. On a speaking engagement the following week, he shared the story of how $1,800 of new equipment had been stolen from his infant church. A man in the audience was prompted to write a check for the total amount. With this donation they were able to purchase replacement equipment before the following Sunday. They didn’t miss one service before God provided.
The urban church planter will face many challenges and discouragements as he labors to grow his church. Satan will attempt to discourage the leaders as well as the lay people. How will he respond? Will he trust God who is able to take care of him and his church? If he will live by faith before his people, God will bless many times over with his abundant provision. The lessons learned will be many, and the growth experience will be irreplaceable.
Many who plant churches in the city will have to raise missionary support to fund their salaries. Where will the money come from? I have watched men who had absolutely no potential support base see God provide the money they needed from totally unexpected sources. Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.” Not only is God able, he delights in providing when we exercise faith. God wants to show his people how great and magnificent he really is. But the leaders must live by faith.
What is biblical faith, and how can I become a man or woman of faith? Many have mistakenly defined faith thinking it had to do with a feeling or some sort of spiritual gift. There is a spiritual gift of faith but that’s not what I am referring to. The faith I am talking about is faith we are all commanded to have. Faith is not a feeling. A feeling may be experienced as a by-product but we must not look for a feeling to determine if we have faith. Faith is simply a decision to take God at his word and act on it. When God promises to provide, protect, or lead, we take him at his word and make a decision of faith. Faith always requires action.
Look at Hebrews 11 and you will see that each of the characters in this great Faith’s Hall of Fame believed God and acted on their faith. For example, Noah believed God and built an ark. God had told him there would be a flood even though it had never rained to that point in the history of the earth. Even though it didn’t make human sense and Noah risked ridicule, he made a decision and spent 120 years building an ark. Another example is Abraham. God had promised him that he would bless his family, multiplying his descendants as many as the stars in the heavens. When God told Abraham to take his only son Isaac up the mountain and offer him as a sacrifice, Abraham did not hesitate. In fact, he got up early the next morning. You see Abraham knew that either God would stop him from killing his son or he would raise him from the dead (Heb 11:19), even though there had never been a resurrection in recorded biblical history to that date. Abraham believed God and made a decision of faith. He acted on his faith and got up early to do what God had commanded.
Let’s look at one more passage. Do you ever worry? Are you anxious at times? Philippians 4:6 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Worry is the opposite of faith. God commands us not to worry or be anxious but instead tells us we are to pray. How do we know God will help us? At the end of the previous verse the Apostle Paul tells us that “the Lord is near” (v. 5). Our decision of faith is to trust God and to stop worrying and to pray for the need or problem we are anxious about. If we obey these two commands, God promises to give us peace. Verse 7 says, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” A number of years ago when my three youngest adult children were teenagers, they were out extra late at a church function. As I lay in bed wondering why they were so late, I made a decision of faith. I told the Lord I would not worry but asked if he would please bring my kids home safely. As I said the word “safely,” almost between syllables, the door opened, and they were home. The next night they were in the final night of the special youth week, coming home even later than the night before. I once again made a decision of faith. I chose not to worry and asked God to please bring them home safely. Once again, right as I said the word “safely,” the door opened, and they were home.
Unfortunately, most people that pray for God’s help or provision begin thinking about the “what ifs” before God has a chance to answer. They think of everything that could happen and Satan robs them of the peace God just gave them. This wouldn’t happen if we would only follow the next verses, Philippians 4:8–9, which says, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” We should not allow the worry and anxiety to creep in all over again. We should meditate on the good things listed in these verses, putting our trust in God.
As we read God’s Word we must always believe everything he tells us and respond to the instruction by active faith. As we do, God will keep his word and we will grow as men and women of faith. God wants to grow our faith. He will do great things in and through us if we will but trust him. God wants to bless the church plants that model faith before the people. Being a man or woman of faith is the greatest asset a church planter can ever have.
(This article comes from Chapter 12, Urban Impact)