I Feel Called To Preach The Gospel.
I grew up moving around a lot. By the time I was about to turn sixteen, I had lived in five different cities on two continents. Even though I grew up in a Christian home where the gospel was preached and modeled I had no interest in Jesus. It is not that I doubted in him or his existence, I just figured that with all the sins I had committed by the age of sixteen Jesus would not be very happy with me. I figured if he had anything to say to me it would not be pleasant.
Despite my feelings, upon moving to Savannah, Georgia in the summer of 1998 just before my birthday, I was invited to attend a three-day retreat with Savannah Christian Church. I went and what happened on this retreat was anything but expected. Jesus did not let loose the wrath upon me that I was sure I had stored up against him, rather he melted my hard heart and made me His. Jesus saved me and I became a Christian.
In addition to Jesus saving me, something else that was very notable took place over the retreat. I had a vision. It is the only vision that I have had to date in my lifetime. In this vision I was (what appeared to be) preaching. I made a very simple deduction coming home from the retreat, I was a new creation, and I had a purpose, and I was to preach the Bible.
Oddly enough, I forgot about this vision I had until I was in my mid to late twenties. Up until this point in my life I had been working for various churches in various roles as a “church professional” not really being good at anything. I felt convicted that I had not developed any real skill or invested myself in the very thing that Jesus had called me to do. So, I began to study intently from every good resource that was thrown my way so that I could be fruitful in the direction that Jesus had called me.
I Feel Called To Plant A Church
The more I studied, prayed and consulted with others I began to be drawn more and more towards church planting. For starters, the primary place that the gospel is proclaimed from is the church.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
It is not just the job of the preacher to preach the bible in a church, but to do so for the glory of God, to grow the kingdom of God, and to grow the church wherever they are. What’s the most effective way to consistently grow the church? Gospel preaching and church planting.
New Churches reach more people than traditional well established churches. Surveys have found that small churches that are starting out are 16 times more likely to reach more people than well established churches. Does this mean that we are against large established churches? Not at all. We love them and are incredibly thankful for them. We hope by the grace of God to one day be like them while we continue to plant other churches.
New Churches reach new people. In America it is conservatively estimated that 70% of the population is unaffiliated with a church in any way. We are literally surrounded by the harvest, and many churches have been living among the harvest fields for decades and have not been able to effectively reach the 70% at large. Church plants reach unreached people groups. Rick Warren says, “It takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people.” If we want to reach more people, we need to plant more churches.
New Churches release new leaders and if they are healthy, they are reproducing themselves (planting additional new churches). Among the many people that new churches are able to reach, leaders are among them. Just as the Lord saved and called me, as we share the gospel within a new church we stand to connect with leaders who Jesus is raising up and we can further equip them for the work and commission of other church plants.
Is this principle true in the southeast where there are churches on every corner? Yes. The southeast was recently called the graveyard of churches. More churches close in this region on the map than anywhere else in America. For that reason it is not surprising to see new churches popping up. We are thankful for them too. If it shows us anything, it is that the Lord has a heart for cities in our region (Southeast Georgia) and we are more than happy to be a part of what he is doing here.
While studying various church plants over the past several years and being a part of a healthy church plant in Atlanta, the Holy Spirit inclined my heart and gave me the desire to plant a church. This has been something I simply have not been able to escape.
THE BEST REASON
I could give a hundred reasons why it seems foolish to plant a church and a hundred reasons why we should. Ultimately it comes down to one very simple reason. Jesus has called me to do a work. Who am I to disobey Jesus. I am along for a great ride.
“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20
Jesus said that He is always with us. This means that we do not labor alone but that we get to labor alongside of Him. This verse has been a great encouragement to me over the past fifteen years and has sustained my peace and joy. Now I trust in the promise of this verse that Jesus is with us as we endeavor to take upon this great work. If Jesus is with us as we partner on His mission then nothing can stop His kingdom from going forth.