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Church Planting Sunday: God's Work in You

During the month of May we encouraged all Acts 29 member churches to participate in a Church Planting Sunday—a day dedicated to highlighting the vision of Acts 29, preaching a sermon on “Churches Planting Churches," as well as taking a special offering for the Network. Acts 29 Vice President, Darrin Patrick, gives his thoughts on Church Planting Sunday and an encouragement for pastors to bear spiritual fruit in their own lives, which leads to lasting fruit in the churches and ministries.

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by Darrin Patrick

I remember attending a leadership conference as a young, associate pastor, and I heard these words from an older pastor: “What God is doing in you is more important than what God is doing through you." At the time I thought it was a cool, “sticky” phrase and I would pull it out in sermons and staff meetings. It wasn’t until I planted a church that I actually understand what this wise pastor was teaching me.

It is quite a radical phrase, really: “What God is doing in you is MORE IMPORTANT than what God is doing through you.” Really? My own sanctification—the process by which I cooperate with God’s Spirit in becoming less dependent on myself and more dependent on Jesus—is of deeper value to God than the proclamation of the gospel or making disciples of all nations? 

I took this statement not as a pitting of personal fruit against corporate fruit, but of personal pruning for lasting ministry fruit. To value “what God is doing in you more than what he is doing through you” has the long view in mind. Weeds grow fast but also fade fast. Deep character in the pastor results in long term ministry through the pastor.

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"Deep character change over time
will yield deep, lasting change in the
people to whom you minister."

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Pastor, please know that you are not going to drift toward this truth. In fact, everyone and everything is going to try to get you to focus on the fruit of the ministry through you instead of the fruit of the Spirit in you. You have to fight this over focus on the external while also rejecting over focus on the internal—that ministry fruit doesn’t matter as long as you are growing personally. 

God wants to work in you so that he can work through you for the long haul. He is really into Spiritual fruit growing in you and ministry fruit bearing through you. No sugar high. No weeds. No steroids. Deep character change over time will yield deep, lasting change in the people to whom you minister. Don’t settle for anything less. 

With that said, God wants to do things through you and your church. As Acts 29 Church Planting Sunday draws near, I would challenge you to ask God, “what could you do through us?" God is at work in you and wants to work through you, pastor!

1 Comments

Sean Nemecek

on May 20, 2013 :: 1:04 pm

While I deeply appreciate the point and direction of this article, I think we need to be careful of creating a false dicotomy between spiritual growth and ministry fruit. It seems to me that true personal growth will lead to fruit in ministry. If there is no fruit there was no growth. De-emphasizing personal growth leads to trying to produce fruit in our own strength. "Abide in me and you will bear much fruit." It is cause and effect. Relationship with Jesus is the cause, bearing fruit in ministry is the effect.

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Darrin Patrick is the lead pastor of The Journey, a church in St. Louis, and the Vice President of Acts 29, a global church planting network. He also serves as the chaplain to the St. Louis Cardinals. Darrin is the author of The Dude’s Guide to ManhoodChurch Planter, co-author of For the Cityand contributor to the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible and Don't Call It A Comeback. His next book, Replant, is set to release in May 2014.