There are few things that get me as excited as seeing normal, Jesus-loving, Spirit-filled men lay down their lives to plant/replant a church. For every pastor whose name is nationally known, there are 1,000s who are faithfully slugging it out in the trenches whose names you will never know. In fact, the overwhelming majority of churches throughout the history of Christianity have been planted and pastored by such men. I am often disturbed when I hear guys resist, suppress or deny the calling to plant/pastor because they can't live up to the standards set by those that are often platformed at conferences. Having high standards is good, but its important to know those guys are atypical.
God's primary avenue of advancing his kingdom is through normal, every day men who have been called and qualified by Jesus Christ to plant churches that plant churches.
One of my hopes is to increase awareness of church planting and church planters, nationally and internationally, by interviewing guys in the trenches of whom you've probably never heard of. Please (1) pray for these men, their families and churches (2) consider financially supporting them, and/or (3) consider moving to join them as they set-out to plant a new gospel work.
Today I'd like to introduce you to a friend of mine, Chris Swan, who is currently on the front end of planting his second church, The Lord's Renown, in San Diego. Here's a recent clip they put together for their supporters and those still considering joining them:
"Tell us about your church plant."
We are a brand new community of believers learning to live for Jesus' name in the city of San Diego, California. My family moved from Bellevue, Washington one year ago and have since been joined by some others from Washington as well as some locals. Currently we are getting the Core Group comfortable with God's Word, praying together, and teaching/speaking the gospel to one another. We have 2 focused times a week of this happening, as well as more random times for befriending one another. One of our main pursuits in building this community is to see that each person is first evaluating their heart and their home for how they are living out the Christian faith, and then encouraging them to be living this faith out loud so that others can see their good works and give glory to our Father who is in heaven.
"How did you know you were called to church planting?"
Well it's been about 12 years since it first became clear that this is what He meant when He asked me to "preach His Word". Yes, I could say that I was specifically called by God to do this, but that's also because I was on a path of self-glorification and He desired to intervene. There's a general call to all who are in Christ to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, and that's all we are doing. We are trying to be faithful in seeing that others get to hear the Good News, and the result of a church is only because the Lord has caused the gospel to take root in the hearts of many, and they then begin to live this new life together - as the church. So, really, we don't see ourselves as planting churches, but more so we see ourselves as willing to go and tell/show people who Jesus is with the hope that the Lord's will is to redeem some.
"Can you share a story of how you've seen Jesus show up so far?"
The initial group of people He has brought together are a great bunch. I've never seen a new church start out as fortunate as we are to have the individuals and families that we do. And some of these have given up quite a lot to join with us; selling homes, quitting jobs, moving without a job, cashing in savings plans, etc. I believe the Lord is going to bless this group by laying a firm foundation for a great work of God.
"What has been your biggest joy so far? Trial?"
My biggest joy has been that the Lord has spoken loud enough for me to hear, and that means He's leading our steps and we aren't just asking Him to bless ours. It's a lot more enjoyable to be working out of the "rest" that is Jesus. Really the trials have been few and minor so far. Maybe it's because we've done this before, maybe He is just being gentle in this season.
"What would you tell someone just starting out?"
Be living the Christian life you are calling others to join you in. It's very easy to get in a rut of just telling people how to be Christians without ever showing them while sitting around your own dinner table. Church leaders need to slow down and not be in such a rush to create a church family that they get to preach at.
What are your current needs? How can others help and/or get involved?
Prayer for the work is the best way to be involved, for if the Lord is not at work here then none of our efforts will make much of a difference. He has a will and we want to be working in accordance with it. Please ask Him to be making a way for people to hear and believe in the saving grace found only in Jesus Christ. Thanks!