Starting a church is like starting a business.
The only difference is that in this “business” the “business partners” won’t be getting a financial return; the “employees” pay (tithe) the company for the privilege of working for free; “customers” are asked to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus; and the “product” is a message that is offensive to 90% of the people who hear it.
That’s why I’ve come to a few conclusions about what it takes to start a church:
- It takes an act of God to start a church.
- That act of God always involves the people of God.
- It’s up to God to get the right people in the right places at the right time.
- God mobilizes some people to go down into the mine and some people to hold the ropes.
An Act of God
Our journey to start churches in New York City proves that it takes an act of God to start a church.
God put it on my heart to move our family to Queens to make disciples and multiply churches. So, we moved to Queens with no team, no partners, no plan, and no money. All we had was faith and a clear calling from God.
Just a few months into it and we’ve already had three mission teams, a dozen churches that are considering partnership with us, hundreds of people praying for us, and we have prayerfully written a disciple making plan of action that we believe will result in new churches.
Somehow along the way, we’ve also paid rent and put groceries on the table.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
An Act of God Involves the People of God
God is up to something, but I think He wants to involve even more of His people in this work.
The Apostle Paul relied on others to support his missionary activity. He often wrote to his partners to ask for their prayers (Colossians 4:2-6), to ask for financial assistance (Romans 15:22-28), or to thank them (Philippians 4:10-20). Paul wasn’t asking for money to get rich but to be “fully supplied” so that he could accomplish the work God had given him to do. He believed the partners that came alongside of him would be blessed for their partnership as evidenced by his words to the church at Philippi, “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that is increasing to your account.” (Philippians 4:17)
John wrote to Gaius and encouraged him to support the journey of Christian missionaries. He told Gaius, “We ought to support such men so that we can be coworkers with the truth.” (3 John 5-8) For John, there are those who are sent and those who support but both are partners in the gospel harvest that would result from the ministry.
Fast forward a few years to the story of William Carey. Carey is known as the father of modern missions. Before he left England to serve as a missionary in India, Carey told his friends, “I will go down into the mine, if you will hold the ropes.” He founded a missionary society to help take the gospel to those who had not heard.
Carey published his ideas about partnership in a little booklet that became the manifesto of the modern missionary movement.
In light of all the above, we have also developed a partnership plan for others to become coworkers with us in New York City. Our plan can be summed up in three words: pray, provide, and participate. (Carey’s plan was summed up in four words: pray, plan, give, and go)
- Pray | If we are going to see churches planted in New York City and beyond, we believe God will raise up an army of people who will commit to pray for us and for this ministry. (You can sign up for our monthly e-newsletter here.)
- Provide | New York City is the most expensive city in America to live and to do ministry. We will need people who can give generously to the work as “coworkers with the truth”. We need dozens of people and dozens of churches who will commit to “hold the ropes”.
- Participate | We need short-term volunteers to labor in the field as well as long-term laborers in the field. Some of those laborers may come from elsewhere while some may come directly from the harvest. (See Matthew 9:35-38) Regardless, we believe that it’s up to God to get the right people in the right places at the right time.
We are praying for partners, or “coworkers”, who will commit to pray, provide, and participate in what God is doing in New York City. We are a long way from being “fully supplied” and our vision is bigger than our resources at the moment but we are convinced that God will continue to act and God’s people will continue to help.
The venture capitalists or investors in a startup may get a financial return but those who invest in the kingdom will receive a spiritual reward.
If you’d like to discuss partnership with us, please contact me. We appreciate your prayers and support!