Sanballats and Tobiahs
The model of church planting we are adopting here in Solihull is probably not the easiest. Send a guy in, guy makes contacts as best he can, guy starts worship service, guy keeps making contacts with others, guy develop leaders, etc. Thanks to God that Dr Al Lutz was that 'guy' to start with! We now have a small group of people who are growing in the Lord in various ways.
(If you are reading this, Al, it was good talking to you on the phone the other day.)
There are other models of planting and perhaps they are easier - say, if you've got lots of people. Send group in, group makes contacts as best they can, group starts worship ... you get the idea. That's fine if you have a group! If not, what should you do? The EPCEW wants to plant churches, so it just gets on with it, under God. It is careful with resources and training men. But it gets on with the task in hand - the Great Commission to plant churches.
No matter what the model used, one thing is certain - it isn't easy. I say that, not to try and gain sympathy. I don't need or want that. I say it, because I have known what to expect. With three years of church-planting experience now (I know, I'm a mere pup still) I know enough to know that there are going to be struggles, joys, pain, opposition, confrontation, fun all mixed in together.
Amongst those who come to a new church plant are those genuinely seeking salvation. That's wonderful. To see them find faith in Christ and to see a growing love for him is superb. Just the best thing.
But I am under no illusions. There are those who are more like wolves in sheep's clothing. They come with an air of spirituality, they talk the talk. But soon they start complaining. Things are not quite right. Small things. They start explaining how they like their church 'served up' to them. When they realise they are not going to get it the way they want it they go somewhere else. But they don't quite let go. They spend time behind the scenes explaining how 'that church' is not right, sowing seeds of doubt and discontent. Those small things are now big things. Sheep-worriers.
We are getting a little of this kind if thing now at SPC. I am not discouraged. Sanballats and Tobiahs are to be expected. We just keep building with one hand while taking up our swords in the other for the spiritual battle. "I will build my church" says Jesus. Yes, Lord, build it! Make it strong! The gates of hell will not prevail.
We will work side by side with those willing to work while believing the promises of God, and do it with joy.
What of those complainers, sheep-worriers, church-consumers? I can only pray that in time they get a right perspective on this kingdom work. I fear for them. I want them with us sharing in the sheer pleasure of building for the Lord. But only for that.