Where do we go from here?
We have just read stories of churches being planted worldwide by ordinary people trusting in an extraordinary God. These are only a few of the many stories from the DOVE family that could be told about believers, just like you and me, who obeyed the call to plant a new church to reach more people for Christ. A thread found in every story is that the church planter took a step of faith. All of us felt insecure, often unprepared, and had to deal with the fear of the unknown, but each of us took a step of faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Our God rewards faith. What is God calling you to do? Is the Lord calling you to lead a team, to plant a new small group, a new church or to serve on a team with others who plant a new church?
Pluman and Mya and their adult daughter Lubrimyra live in Sofia, Bulgaria. A few years ago, they took a step of faith and obeyed the call to plant a new church in Sofia where Danail Tanev mentored them. They rented a building from another church in Sofia for the Sunday evening celebration meetings as believers in small cell groups come together each week.
Throughout the year, they led people to Christ who were not fitting into the church they had started in Sofia. In response, they wisely began new small groups becoming house churches for these new believers—new wineskins for the new wine.
Those who have told their stories in this book had to make a decision to become true disciples, not just converts. They had to deny themselves, and in their cases, this led to planting a church.
Jesus said it like this; “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25).
Recently I read Rick Joyner’s Word for the Week, “A disciple lives a life of sacrifice, not pursuing our own desires, but denying them to take up our cross to follow Him who ‘emptied Himself’ of His divine nature to save us. Is our first response to seek our own desires or to deny ourselves for the sake of the Lord and His purposes? As He explains here, to live for ourselves is the path to losing our lives. Even the highest earthly goals bring only fleeting satisfaction and then emptiness. We were created for God’s pleasure. Only a life devoted to this will ever fulfill us. To live the life of sacrifice we are called to is the path to the most fulfilling life of all.”1
Obeying the Lord to plant new churches is choosing to live a life of sacrifice, but experiencing the fruit of our labor is so rewarding.
During the past few years, LaVerne and I have felt the Lord calling us back to our roots—helping to plant new churches in our own community. With some team members, we formed a new DOVE ministry called The New Initiative, which is focusing on planting new micro-churches in our community in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Two new house churches have already begun. These two new churches are committed to planting new churches. There will be many more God stories to tell in the coming months and years.
For those of you who sense God has called you to start a new church or to help start a new church, here are a few guidelines to help you:
- Pray, pray and pray for direction from the Lord and for laborers for the harvest.
- Focus on reaching new persons for Christ.
- Disciple a new believer(s).
- Help to lead a cell group.
- Lead a cell group.
- Multiply a cell group.
- Discuss what you are sensing from the Lord with your church leadership.
- Learn how to lead a Bible study (such as the Discovery Bible Study), which takes people from not knowing God to falling in love with Jesus.
- Meet with others who are called to plant new churches.
- Receive training and take the DOVE Leadership and Ministry School either live or by streaming video anywhere in the world.
- Discern if you are called to lead a church planting team or if you are to be a part of a church planting team.
- Discern the type of church you will help to plant: a community church or a house church. (Read the book House Church Networks to know the difference).
- Meet with others who have a heart to plant the type of church you feel called to plant.
- Build a church planting team, or become a part of a team.
- Develop a prayer base, a team of intercessors who will spiritually cover you.
- Find ways to partner with others in this new vision.
- Discern who will be your primary spiritual oversight connection when you plant this church.
- Discern who will be possible mentors to you for this new endeavor.
- Discern the Lord’s timing with your team, spiritual overseers and mentors.
- Pray, pray, pray and take a step of faith and expect the Lord to lead and bless you as you obey His call.
I have felt the Lord impressing me that He is giving us, the DOVE International family, an invitation. He says in His Word, “Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession” (Psalm 2:8). I am convinced that God is inviting each of us to ask Him for laborers for His harvest, and to partner together with others to plant new churches in our communities, our regions, our nations and in the nations of the world.
Paul the apostle tells the Philippian believers, “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel” (Phil. 1:4-5). This is how we feel about you. We desire to see you reach your full potential in Christ as we partner together to fulfill His purposes. As each of us do what our heavenly father asks of us, I believe our family of churches will grow to more than 1,000 churches by 2020. It is not about numbers, it is about responding to an invitation from our heavenly father to obey Him.
If you do not have a personal call from God to plant a church, ask God to help you find someone who has that call. Partner with them by praying, by helping them financially and by encouraging them. The person you partner with might live locally or somewhere in your nation or even in another part of the world. Develop a partnership with them and receive the blessing from the Lord as they plant new churches. Remember, Jesus said that when we give a prophet a cup of cold water, we will receive a reward like theirs (Matthew 10:41, 42).
The Bible tells us that without a vision the people perish (Proverbs 29:18). As we continue to grow as an international church family, we are called by God to fulfill the vision He has given us to build the church with an “underground” focus in the nations of the world. We are called to love Jesus, love His people and love the people in the broken world in which we live. And by the grace of God we will experience the daily reality of living the Kingdom—transforming our world from house to house, city to city and nation to nation.
More church planting pages here