By Victor Ochieng
Every church planter has a desire for his or her church to grow, which is a good thing. However, something that normally hides in this desire is a zeal to develop our own empire. We can present our plans and strategies to God in prayer, yet still have a strong drive to have the church grow, not for the glory of God, but as a way to prove our personal abilities.
That’s why church planting and desire for its growth, if not monitored through biblical principles, can yield catastrophic results. In fact, it can prove to be a spiritual threat to you, your family and the congregation, considering that the driving force is worldly.
From the facade, some ministries can appear to be impressive and demonstrative of what a true zeal for the LORD should be. However, a closer look can reveal an unmistakable scent of Babel.
According to an article authored by Adam Ramsey, leader of Liberti Church, one’s motive is very key. Zack Eswine speaks in his book, “The Perfect Pastor,” of an explosive potential of desire among church leaders: “Desire is a firework. Handled wisely it fills the night sky with light, color, beauty, and delight. Handle desire poorly, and it can burn your neighborhood down.”
Ramsey says that as a church planter and pastor, he faces a continuous battle against ego and impatience even as he wallows in a world that’s very quick to shower praises on swift results as opposed to Godly sustainability. He says his personal abilities and feeling of inadequacy are constantly at war within him for his attention.
The tricky part is that many church planters are very busy with filling in their places of worship without focusing on a strong biblical foundation that would flourish even amid challenges. The desire for the growth of a church must be gospel motivated; it must be driven by the yearning to see more people receive the good news of the Kingdom of God. But even when results don’t come as quickly as expected, one has to understand that the gospel ministry isn’t about them and so their focus should be on laying a strong and unshakable foundation.
Learn From Dr. Seuss
Sometimes we believe that because we’re doing the right thing, God owes us everything we ask of him. When we move out to plant a church, we get the feeling that God owes it to us, including bringing in numbers. At such a rate, one is tempted to become like Dr. Seuss’s Yertle the Turtle and begin to feel that their talents, gifts, and anointing is under-utilized in their assignment.
Ramsey also warns against the allure of ambition. Like Brennan Manning once warned, “ambition to be a star in the body of Christ is alluring and seductive; it is also demonic, the glamorous enemy of all servanthood and love.” Every church planter who tries to exalt himself ends up “hanging from the noose of their own success,” says Haman from the Bible book of Esther.
In all these, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t set our goals and work towards achieving them. However, the driving force should be to bring more people to Christ for His glory.