Church planting can be tough work. Scratch that, it can be soul-breaking work. I’ve seen enough casualties to know that I don’t want to become one. Three books are encouraging me right now–Timothy Keller’s Church Planting Manual for Redeemer Presbyterian in New York, “Church Planting is For Wimps” by Mike McKinley, a church planter from Mark Dever’s church (Capital Hill Baptist) and “The Trellis and the Vine” by Collin Marshall and Tony Payne. The first two are explicitly church planting books while the last fits into the genre perfectly for its helpful biblical insights.
There are so many good, satisfying and gut-checking things that I could say about these books, but what I want to mention here is the need for church planters to find refreshment for their souls. In Keller’s and McKinley’s books, I found hardship and some failure and set-backs, and that, funny enough, is so encouraging to me. Let me explain.
When I see and hear the success stories of ministry, I try to keep everything in perspective acknowledging that God is sovereign, and I am His to do with as He pleases, wherever He chooses and with whatever degree of success He sees fit. I honestly believe that biblical success is measured in faithfulness. Yet I also passionately want to see my little area of God’s vineyard flourish and abound with much fruit. And I think that this desire is right, if it keeps the perspective that all glory is for God alone. What was so encouraging in the set-backs I read about was the ring of truth I heard in them. Keller and McKinley were honest and they told of their struggles and hardships, even their own worries and doubts. Being a church planting pastor can be lonely at times. It’s men like Keller and McKinley and my pastor who remind me that plugging along, plodding faithfully with my hands to the plow and my eyes heavenward is what I must keep doing. Soli Deo Gloria!