Posted in: Leadership
By Alex Early
I've heard the following terms regarding church planting, that it is: "cool," "hip," "trendy," and my least favorite, and have no idea how the term is applicable - "sexy." However, what needs to be repeated again and again is that suffering in church planting is not an if but rather a when and how you're going to make it through.
Gospel Resilience is all we have to lean on and into. Holding fast to the promise that nothing will separate us from our loving God fuels resilient men.
If you're reading this blog, you likely find yourself in or close to the Reformed theological camp and therefore give heavy and well-deserved emphasis on the sovereignty of God. In fact, without it, I don't know how a man sets out to plant a church. However, we must be mindful of a few things when endeavoring to plant gospel-centered, missionally minded, spirit-filled, complimentarian churches:
Satan hates us.
Heretics Resist us.
Critics scoff at us.
Our flesh fails us.
Satan Hates Us..
If you're theology teaches you that Satan is just "the personification of evil" - plant a church and your theology will likely change. Satan and his demons have always hated Jesus and his church and has sought to end church planting from the beginning (See Acts). Church planter, you have a real enemy who wants you dead (John 10.9) and accuses you night a day before God (Revelation 20). Take your strength in that Jesus loves you and wants you living joyously in the Holy Spirit.
Heretics Frustrate Us.
Most of your New Testament letters are known as "occasional documents." That is, a church was planted and then some sort of sin, doctrinal error, or disruption has occurred and thus provided Paul or one of the other writers the occasion to address the issue(s) at hand.
In Corinth, it's drunkenness and sexual immorality.
In Galatia, it's issues regarding the Old Testament Law.
In Colossae, it's syncretism.
Keep your eye out for heretics and respond accordingly.
Critics Scoff at Us.
As a leader in your city, your life is on display for everyone, Christian and non to watch. Both victories and failures are known by all because you live under a magnifying glass.
As you try to be creative and try new things, you'll have critics lining up to take shots at you and the mission Jesus called you to. Mockery, rumors, scrutiny and so on should be expected no matter how God-honoring your calling may be and this is because not everyone cares to honor God nor your leadership.
Yet, here’s your opportunity to be defined by what you’re for rather than what you’re against. That is to say, when the insults roll in, let them roll off your shoulders because Jesus and his mission is bigger and your time is far too valuable to be wasted on people’s complaints who simply would rather bad-talk you than get on mission and put points on the board for the Kingdom.
Our Flesh Fails Us.
After a few days into church planting, what began as a sure-proof plan and beautiful vision from God, all of a sudden feels like it has been taken to the ground to be buried in the halls of failed-church plants.
Exhaustion, confusion, loneliness will become more frequent as you pour out your life for Jesus and his church. The temptations to run to caffeine, porn, alcohol, or television as a means of escape from the pressures of church planting surface. Our spirit is willing but our flesh is weak.
I've Got Something to Prove
However, because of the good news of Jesus, the very power of God, you can be resilient in your church plant. You can continually endure and bounce back into shape because it is the Holy Spirit himself dwelling in you and conforming you to the image of Jesus.
Gospel Resilience is the antithesis of the "I've got something to prove mentality."
You don’t have to prove anything to anybody.
Not your spouse.
Not your family.
Not your friends.
Jesus has taken care of the “looking impressive” aspect too. Your job in your church plant is to continually put on display the worth of Jesus, even at your own expense.
This is the reward.
 One Sunday morning, one month into our church plant, a man in a black trench coat came in the back with a J.D. Crossan book in his hand and walked right up the middle to me before the service started and said, “You know, everything you’re about to say is a lie.” What do you mean by that? I asked. “There is no Satan. There is no hell. There is no such thing as evil” he said. So, in that moment, I went and told our elders, “watch him like a hawk. Do not let him speak to anyone.” I immediately took the stage and said, “There is someone here today who will tell you that Satan doesn’t exist, nor is there a hell or anything such as “evil.” I want to show you today that Scripture indeed affirms that Satan, hell and evil are real and our victory is in Jesus.” The man got up and left when it was time to respond in Communion at the end of the sermon. He spoke to no one. He has never returned. Crazy.
 For example, our church meets in a bar in the Bible belt which is unpopular for the traditional Southern church-goer. We have served at events sponsored by our city that served alcohol (October Fest) and there’s always some that have something negative to blog about.