October 3, 2014

Does Our Church Planting Strategy Include Dying?

  • What is the name of the church going to be?
  • Where is the church going to meet?
  • What is the church launch going to look like?
  • How will you build relationships in the community?
  • What will missional living look like?
  • How will you fund the church plant?
  • What will the statement of faith be?
  • Who will make up the core team?
  • What will the leadership structure be?
  • What will the small group structure be?
  • Which worship style will you use?

I have been asked ALL these questions (and a shed-load of others) MULTIPLE times by people and books as we move towards planting a church in Gracemount. All of them deserve serious thinking time, and all of them deserve a serious answer. This week, however, came a question that thus far had not assaulted my grey matter. It came not from a church member. Nor from a church-planting book. But from Ghana.

Have you come here to die?

It was the question a people group in Ghana asked any new missionaries upon their arrival.

Have you come here to die?

The query behind the question was, ‘Are you here for the long haul?’ ‘Are you here to do life deeply with us?’ ‘Have you come to one day return home, or are you making here your home? ‘Have you packed your coffin?’

It’s an intriguing exercise, not only to ponder the answer, but to muse on why the Ghanaians would even ask the question. For them, did the credibility of the missionaries’ message depend on the willingness of the missionaries to give their whole life for its sake? It is a question that has pierced by heart, and agonised my soul, and pounded the treadmill of my mind more than any other. What if this was it? For life. All of it. Till death. What if the Lord asked me to give the whole of my life to model discipleship that perseveres until the very end?

Has my arrogant, culturally-conditioned mind swallowed the lie that a life in gospel ministry is one where I have a right to climb the ‘ministry-career-ladder’? Has my faithless, anxious heart already decided that when the going gets tough I’ll ‘feel called’ to another ministry opportunity? Are my worldly-middle-class lusts desiring a comfortable retirement in a prettier, safer part of Edinburgh, built on a steadier income stream in my ‘next parish’? Does Gracemount deserve my whole life?

Of course.

Does Gracemount need my whole life?

Probably not. I am only one miniscule part of the body of Christ.

Will Gracemount be where I die? I don’t know. The Lord knows.

I am not saying that it is wrong to move on (otherwise I never would have moved on from Charlotte Chapel). But I do think that it is a question that at least deserves a conversation, or a few pages in a book, and some time rattling around the planter’s mind (and the minds of those who go with him). Not only contemplating missional living, but missional dying. . . .

‘Have you come here to die?’

  • Andy Prime
    Andy Prime is pastor of Gracemount Community Church in Gracemount, Edinburgh. He's married to Sarah and they have a son named Reuben.Read All by Andy Prime ›

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