Thursday, June 6, 2013

Should I Start A Church?

My son Ryder putting the signs out
Church planting certainly has its ups and downs.  On one particularly down day, I seriously wanted to quit.  God encouraged me by saying, “You’re a trailblazer.”

I didn’t know anything about trailblazing except this:  a trailblazer has to go first.

When we first moved to Virginia, my kids and I were constantly overwhelmed by the amount of trees and the denseness of the endless forests.  We’d often comment, "How did the settlers ever get anywhere?!"  It was apparent a good portion of their time was spent clearing the land and blazing trails.

What is a trailblazer?

trailblazers  plural of trail·blaz·er (Noun)
1. A person who makes a new track through wild country.
2. A pioneer; an innovator.
3. One that blazes a trail to guide others1

When I looked up the word and read the definition, I was motivated to keep going! Giving up was NOT an option.  God’s assignment for me was to plant this new church in “wild country” and He considered me innovative – wow!  Let’s do this!

The apostle Paul was a trailblazer extraordinaire.  He knew he was called to go first.  He preached in heathen cities to hostile crowds, endured incredible hardship, and said bold things like “Follow me as I follow Christ.” (I Cor. 11:1) We know Paul started 14 churches in different cities, and it’s very likely he started more. 

Why we need trailblazers

Many of us love to walk on well-worn nature trails, enjoying the beauty and fresh air that surrounds us.  But have you ever taken the time to consider the hard work that went into building that trail?  Someone had to do the dirty, sweaty, backbreaking work to make something wonderful for future nature lovers to enjoy.

Church planters are pioneers.  Led by the Holy Spirit, they go to a particular area and do the hard work necessary to make sure that for generations to come, people will have a place to find Jesus, worship corporately and enjoy the presence of God.
What does a trailblazer do?2

1) Surveys the area for the potential trails; walks the area and takes note of potential hazards.  It’s no different for church planters.  At Three in One, we are currently “surveying” the area near our theatre for the best place to build our church.  We go in with eyes wide open to risks and problems that may arise. Lots of prayer walks to come!

2) Draws a rough map of the trail, realizing adjustments may be necessary.  With any new life venture, writing down the mission and vision is key to success. 

3) Clears the area, beginning with the largest things first (trees, rocks), then the brush, then the weeds. 

To future church planters, the first obstacles are obvious: gathering a core team, raising the finances, etc.  It’s when you get to the removing-the-weeds stage where things get really difficult.  Weeds in a church can be negativity, gossip, someone who stirs up division, etc.  The best way to weed the wrong people out is to do more outreach—the people who are in your church for the wrong reasons want nothing to do with loving and serving people outside of the church. 

4) Builds bridges across the wet, low-lying areas (use what's already there to make your bridge--logs, stepping stones, etc.)

Be a church who “builds bridges” in your community.  Find ways to come alongside others in the area who are in line with why Jesus came—to set captives free (ex. help in drug rehab program) and to heal the brokenhearted (ex. Minister in nursing homes). 

James 1:27 is another standard of where to be in your community.  Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” This can look like serving in local feeding programs, school tutoring/mentoring programs, homeless shelters, etc.

5) Marks the trail with signs

Every Sunday morning at 7:30 am, my son and I drive around the community near our church and put our church sandwich board signs in strategic spots.  After all, what’s the point of having a church if no one knows you’re there? I can’t tell you how many people have come to our church saying, “I saw the signs!”

The best “signs” your church has are your people.  It’s important to create a culture where people learn the power and payoff of inviting people to church and sharing their salvation stories with friends, family, and even strangers.

Are you ready to be the person who goes first?  Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." If God has called you to plant a church OR start a new business OR be the first one in your family to serve Christ, OR ,fill-in-the-blank,  He thinks you are a trailblazer!  That’s pretty cool!  Now, go blaze that trail!

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