By Lee Kemp
When I’m talking to people and sharing Forefront Church’s story, I have often been asked “Why did you go into church planting after being involved in an established church ministry for more than a decade?” I think it’s a great question.
Back in the day, Sarah and I made this little magazine when Forefront was becoming a reality. There was a “Why Church Planting?” page, and it had a few simple points. I’ll use them as a starting point to answering this question.
1. God has called me to do it.
That’s reason enough to be involved in church planting, but it is a hard answer to give sometimes. I’ve always tried to be careful saying, “God called me to do this.” Maybe it was my creative brain and not God?
Even though I know God called me—to church planting and to do other things—the one thing that would limit me is feeling ill-equipped. Well, if God is sending people to do it, he must be equipping people to do it! I know whenever God calls us he equips us.
I feel he equipped me by giving me an entrepreneurial spirit for Kingdom advancement. He also gave me a pioneering spirit, and by that I mean a willingness to cut a trail, to settle a vision into a reality. The grass was bent in Fort Smith and there was a trail, and I felt like God was leading me to take a road over there.
2. Church plants are fulfilling the great commission, sometimes faster than established churches.
Church plants are effective, and they reach new people. There is plenty of research on this. Church plants, also known as church starts, in many cases have been observed to grow from 0 to 200 people quicker than established churches.
Church plants also have a passion for evangelism, and they have a tendency for a disciple-centered culture. It’s a part of the demand that they make disciples because there is nothing else for them to hang their hat on.
A lot of church plants have evangelism so ingrained in their ministry DNA that they “plant pregnant.” In other words, they are starting new churches as they are becoming a new church. There is a lot of statistical data to back up that church planting is one way of fulfilling the Great Commission at a faster pace.
3. There is a need for church planting.
When you listen to someone talk about a business, people often ask, “Is there a viable reason for this?” I’ve talked a lot in previous blogs about being a missional church, but there really was a need for a missional church plant in Fort Smith. (If you haven’t already, be sure to read “We Are Forefront” and “My Apartment Is My Mission Field.”)
We have seen God fulfill his vision through us. Sometimes it was in “small” ways, and sometimes it was in big ways. (Check out “Sowing Seeds with People of Peace,” “From Homeless to Homemaker,” and “God is Still on the Move.”)
Continuing to grow
I have done a lot of growing over the years in both the ministries of established churches and church planting. The first sermon I ever preached was awful and doctrinally wrong. In a church plant, if someone preaches like that, visitors might go to a completely different church! If someone had never given me that opportunity, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
One thing I really don’t dispute is God calling me to church planting, but what I struggle with is if I am doing it in the way he would have me do it. Sometimes I think I’m doing ok, and other days I feel like I should be blocking off my whole day for prayer.
I have learned that even though I am a pastor, I am still obligated to lead with the fruit of the Spirit. In church planting, the success of the church plant can hinge on whether this new thing rolls or doesn’t roll. If something’s not working, then why? How will I know if it is worth continuing? When I shepherd, I have to lead with the fruit of the Spirit.
This is my last official blog post, and I am passing the baton to several great guys who will share their lives, tell their stories, and give you a glimpse into what God is doing through their church plants. Continue following Forefront Church’s journey at http://www.forefront.church/, or add me on Facebook.
I would ask that you continue to pray for Forefront Church and for our family. Here are a few specific ways you can pray:
- That Sarah and I will continue to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and that we would seek to minister being filled with the Spirit.
- We ask for wisdom and discernment about how to position our people where they can fulfill their calling in ministry and ultimately advance the Gospel.
- That we would continually walk in faith. We want to see God provide for us in a way where only he is seen as our source of provision. We don’t ever want to be in a spot where we “finally make budget.” If we make budget, it’s our desire to constantly have a posture of faith as a church. We don’t want to ever be in a spot where we financially settle. Pray that we don’t become complacent.
- Please pray for my children. I don’t want to reach the whole world and lose my own kids. I don’t want to minister in such a way that my kids hate the ministry. I pray that they would continue in—and maybe even be called to—ministry, and that they would continue the race that Sarah and I have started.