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What Have You Started from Scratch?

Blog: What Have you started

By Paul Dean

Paul Dean is an Acts 29 church planter who started Alathia Community in Issaquah, Washington, four years ago.

You’ve got to admire the entrepreneurial aptitude of the extreme sport crowd. Crash or land, they are always trying something new.

Entrepreneurial Aptitude (E.A.) is a gifting from the Holy Spirit that makes you (to some degree) comfortable with the extreme sport-like risk that is church planting. Starting something from jack-squat takes tireless prayer, effort, and relationship-grinding teamwork, and may just crash even after all that. A lead church planter has to be OK with apparent failure.

E.A. is hard to describe, because it looks different with different people. Acts 29 church planters answer a series of questions that hit at the issue before and during assessment – the most important one being, “What is something you have started from scratch?”

When I was assessed, my answer was something like this: “I used to make up games as a kid -- we even kept stats and formed a league. In high school, I formed a group of youth who did odd jobs and sent the proceeds to orphans. In every church I’ve served I’ve started some outreach from my circle of peers. I’ve also started 3 successful businesses.”

All these projects, ministries, and businesses show a tolerance for risk and ability to see things through to completion. Over time I’ve come to conclude that, in order to serve his Kingdom, my Savior has created me in such a way that I am comfortable with significant risk. Sometimes things go well, and sometimes Jesus teaches me about depending on him and resting in his providence through my spectacular crashes.

Like the other qualities of a Lead Planter that Acts 29 assesses, E.A. directly impacts the ministry of the church plant. Everything that a new church does originates in the head of the planter. New ideas that spring from time in prayer and God-given missionary insight into the culture can lead to great Kingdom progress. If a planter does not have E.A., he is hesitant to try new things and either copies from existing models (that likely fail because they were developed in another culture by someone with a different skill set) or is paralyzed with indecision. For example, during the last 4+ years of planting Alathia, we have started bible studies, core group training, Sunday services, service projects in the community, Christmas Festivals, small groups (transformed to outward-focused gospel communities), regional efforts in church planting (Acts 29 Eastside), a training program for church leaders (Antioch Northwest), a church planting foundation, and supported a wild effort to support church planting through coffee sales.  Very little of that would have been done without tolerance of risk and the God-given skill set of creating something from very little.

Therefore, if you are praying through your calling to plant a church, perhaps you should ask yourself the question, “What have I started from scratch?” If your list is long and includes projects, ministries, businesses that God has providentially blessed, then perhaps Jesus is using your entrepreneurial aptitude to point you toward church planting.