Earlier this Fall, our family invested in a new exercise bike. It’s a fancy one with a screen and countless pre-recorded workouts with instructors who say things like, “You’re doing great!” while I’m gasping for air during a warm-up ride. Needless to say, I have been using some new muscles and have the soreness to prove it.
In much the same way, church planting requires muscles that most of us don’t often use. We are used to using gifts of hospitality and facilitating rich worship experiences for our congregations. And while worshipping together is essential for our faith, we cannot ignore the Gospel imperative to reach non-Christians with the Good News of salvation through Christ.
So let’s just acknowledge that in order to reach people outside of the Christian faith, we might have to use some new muscles. And let’s also acknowledge we might experience some soreness along the way.
The more I study Scripture, the more I believe that planting churches is THE most effective and documented way of reaching non-Christians with the Gospel. Consider the account of Paul’s time in Iconium from Acts 14:3:
“So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.”
Paul REMAINED a long time. He was committed to both the people he encountered and the mission with which he was entrusted.
Paul spoke BOLDLY. He was not ashamed of the Gospel nor was he afraid of confronting the culture he encountered.
Paul bore WITNESS. Paul’s transformed life was a manifestation of the message he preached. Paul, himself, was a witness of grace.
Paul ministered with his HANDS. Paul did not separate himself from the crowds waiting for the people to come to him. Instead, Paul went to the people. He spent time with the people and was close enough to them that God worked signs and wonders through his hands.
When the Lord puts it on your heart to reach non-Christians in your community, know that I am here to support, resource and encourage you. May the Lord be glorified by our worship of Him in our current congregations AND may we allow the Lord to manifest signs and wonders through our hands in the communities around us.
By The Rev. Canon Todd Simonis, ADOSC Canon for Church Planting, St. Helena’s, Beaufort