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I'm Twenty Years Old and I Want to Plant a Church

We frequently receive applications and questions from young men who are between eighteen and twenty-four who want to plant a church. Some of them wisely inquire what is necessary for them to be ready to plant, recognizing that they’re ‘not there’ yet.

Clearly church planting is a marathon, not a sprint, and a decision to plant requires a calling and a good deal of sober judgment.

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’

 — Luke 14:28-30

As we help men think through whether they should plant a church, we encourage those who are under twenty-five years old to wait now and prepare to plant.

What does it look like for you to prepare to plant a church? Become a member in your local church. Serve there. Let your service and the leadership there help test, develop and grow your character, skills and calling.

The Austin Stone Community Church is an Acts 29 church planted by Matt Carter. Two young men in college are members and leaders at his church, and have started a Missional Community on their campus. This is practice for church planting.

The Austin Stone Community Church - Austin, TX from Verge Network on Vimeo.

If you’re a young man considering church leadership, becoming a pastor, and especially a church planter, consider how you might serve and lead now in your church. And start reading.

6 Comments

Bryan Green

on Jun 16, 2011 :: 12:08 pm

If I'm part of a growing church plant and leading a Missional Community of college students is seminary a wise next step?

john sullivan

on Jun 16, 2011 :: 6:05 pm

i don't think anyone who goes to seminary will regret it. i was wrestling with this alot for 2-3 years.
I got a chance to go to this conference: http://pastortheologian.com/

which confirmed the need for seminary.
having finished only one year of seminary now, i can already see how much it is enriching and bulking up my ministry (and how ignorant i was beforehand)

listen to the three messages. very helpful.

Cory Lamb

on Jun 16, 2011 :: 8:57 pm

Thank you for this post. As a twenty-one year old college student with big dreams of church planting and international missions it is easy to lose perspective. Thankfully this post as helped me regain a proper perspective on living missionally.

Andrew Noble

on Jun 16, 2011 :: 10:00 pm

Instead of getting into the seminary conversation, I'd just like to share a few thoughts with other 20 year olds who are serious about starting missional communities like this.

This is hard to do! I've been trying to do something like this over the past 3 years. Learn from my mistakes! Main problems I had were
- disjointed community relationships (we'd all go to different churches or no church on Sunday... different programs/schedules...)
- lack of Christians in close relational proximity to the people you are trying to reach
- lack of prayer
- focus on conversion numbers instead of discipleship
- confusing discipleship with "bible study"
- lack of directional leadership (on my part specifically)
- lack of larger church support (the church wanted a discussion group not a community on mission... )
- major lack of time during exams

Honestly, I feel like my mistakes are really valuable... I did a lot without guidance just random podcasts on what it meant to be the church or mission.

BIGGEST TIP: Be specific to a people group. Or else relationships won't get close enough to have the deeper conversation without being awkward.

Feel free to email me at noble.ahs@ gmail.com and we can discuss more details of my failures to the glory of God and to the pursuit of Jesus' mission!

Bryan Green

on Jun 16, 2011 :: 11:24 pm

From my experience leading an Missional Community so far, the best support I've gotten was from my larger church support. They had the vision and wanted to see change in the city, I just hopped on board. I totally agree with Andrew on that point. I would suggest that those looking into the ministry to talk with leadership at your church about starting an MC first and DO NOT do it on your own. Also, be sure to continually talk about mission with your group.

The biggest thing I've realized about leading an MC in a small southern mountain college town is that most "conversions" have been by de-churched rather than un-churched people. Here, in the South, it's those who have been burned by the church who need to see a community living out the Gospel and being obedient to the commands of Jesus the most.

I agree that a "people group" is a good place to start, but even easier is to choose the place where you live, your neighborhood, apartment complex, dorm room, etc., and get to know the people there. Especially remember that the Spirit does the work of heart change in people's lives. To quote Christopher Wright, "Mission belongs to God. Mission is not ours, but God's ", but we get to be a part of it by His grace! In reality, if you want to be a part of God's mission all you need to do is to get to know your neighbor.

Lawson Flowers

on Jun 23, 2011 :: 10:24 pm

Andrew, thanks for sharing your struggles in leading your Missional Community. I have definitely felt many of the same things with ours.

Probably the biggest struggle I've had (and have, let's be honest) is with my own idolatry. My heart just loves comfort more than Jesus most of the time. This plays out in many ways:
- I don't like to have the hard sin-exposing conversations in our community
- I don't like to talk about Jesus with my community or with the lost
- I don't like to inconvenience my schedule to hang out with my community
- I don't like to inconvenience my schedule to hang out with lost people

It seems so simple, but I have to constantly be preaching the gospel to myself—that Jesus never chose comfort over obeying His Father, then died for every time that I do.

And that's the good news—that stirs my heart—that God doesn't love me because I'm missional. Jesus was missional for me! He loves me because I'm His in Christ.

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