In this day and age, the process of church planting in America roughly follows the steps below (give or take a step or two):
1. Personally feel or hear the call
2. Get training
3. Prayerfully select a location
4. Begin a Bible study in a home
5. Invite friends, family, acquaintances, network and make connections in the community, attracting those in the market for a good church
6. Build a core group
7. Incorporate (501c3)
8. When large enough rent a small facility
9. Get a worship team and children’s ministry together
10. Advertise, promote through social media, direct mail, word of mouth, start a radio program, etc
11. Raise enough funding to rent or buy a larger facility
12. Conduct a major event to draw a crowd on the first Sunday of said new facility
13. Train additional lay leaders for ministry in the church
14. Grow budget to the point of being able to hire office staff and pastoral associates
15. Initiate a building drive to buy a bigger facility
16. Move into the bigger facility with a well-promoted celebration event
17. Groom associate pastor to take over the church once you retire
18. Retire with an adequate financial package
Serve, freely sharing giftings, doing life with a local community of believers, growing in intimacy with the Holy Spirit, deepening dependence on the life and power of Christ within, becoming familiar by experience with Jesus as Lord of the gathering (manifesting and ministering through the various parts of His body without hierarchy)
Be singled out by the Holy Spirit in a worship and prophetic gathering and subsequently sent out
Enter regions where there were no believers, but only blood-drinking, temple prostitute using, idol worshiping, spell-casting, adulterous, swindling, conniving, back-stabbing sorry excuses for humanity who would just as soon slit your throat if you crossed them. Of course, there were some Jews present in these areas, but they too would not hesitate to have you killed for religious reasons. Additionally, there were a few God-fearers who were basically Jewish wannabes. This was the crowd that Team Paul and Barnabas got to “network” with.
Sovereignly, people were born again and would do life together, eating together and hanging out in each others homes. Gatherings were also home-based. Jesus was raising up a community of believers from scratch.
There were no paid positions, all held the same rank as kings and priests. When they gathered, all shared with teachings, worship, prophetic words, tongues, interpretations, etc. Jesus, as Lord and Conductor of the gatherings, was the only Cornerstone that these wise master builders laid. They allowed Him to be the Head and direct the flow and proceedings of the gathering.
All were taught and learned by experience to abide in Christ’s presence and live by His all-sufficient indwelling life.
Paul and Barnabas received no income. They could have. Itinerant church planters, by virtue of their being transients without the ability to hold down a job, were the only ones in those days to receive nominal support for food and shelter. Paul chose not to accept support because he felt that it would hinder the work. He, through self employment, supported the needs of himself and his team.
The Christian communities that Paul started had no building costs, for they met in homes. They had no administrative costs for staff salaries and benefits. All served in the fellowship, using their gifts as Christ commanded “freely you have received, freely give”. As a result, plenty of money was available to help the poor among them and in the neighborhood.
After serving the new fellowship for, on average three months, the duo would move on to the next location. Often, their reward for starting the new fellowship was to be beaten and run out of town by the city folk. No pastor in charge was left behind. The fledgling community would survive Paul’s absence, even the blistering heat of persecution, because they had all learned to tap in to the indwelling power of Christ’s life. It might be years before Paul would return to recognize those who had matured to the point where they could be depended on to serve and protect their peers. Those recognized in this manner had no position to hold onto, no salary to protect, no podium or platform to rule from. They were servant-peers.
Paul would continue this process, being led by the Spirit, until he was retired by imprisonment and finally a grisly death. He amassed no retirement fund or assets other than some books and a cloak.
Dan and Debbie Murrill
April 15, 2016