Five Planting Practices

So some church planting advice from Floyd McClung. The black type is his, the red type are my comments.


by Floyd McClung

Pray. Pray fervently with God’s heart for the people you are reaching out to. Pray to meet people by “divine appointments.” Pray until you can weep over people. Pray fervently. Fast and pray. Walk and pray. Ask God to let you see what he sees and feel what he feels. It is in the place of prayer that God will reveal the unfulfilled purposes and broken covenants for the people you are reaching. Pray for a man or woman of peace to open the door the hearts and minds of people you are reaching. Pray for understanding and love of the culture. Pray for the word of the Lord to guide you and give you specific strategies to make disciples, train leaders and plant a church planting movement.

ac – I’ve seen the results of ministry baked in prayer and ministry not baked in prayer. Prayer is the key. So easy in our enthusiasm to forget that even Jesus only did what he heard his Father tell him to do. God help us all to do this…prayer before action.

Meet. Meet people where they are and meet their needs. Hang out with those who don’t know Jesus. Get outside the Christian bubble. Resist the temptation and emotional need to focus on teams issues that absorb your time and energy. As you pray, trust God to give you strategies for meeting people. Begin to build a network of relationships, what the Bible calls an oikos (literally a household). This network is the beginning of your future church plant. This network of relationships will become the future support system for those who accept Christ if they are disenfranchised by their family and friends. Build this network in faith that it will become a church for God in that place.

ac – we’ve been hearing it for years ‘go to them’ ‘church without walls’ ‘missional church’ – and my desire is that it will become a reality. Here is a small confession…I want to know more not-yet-Christians than Christians. I want to follow Jesus and be friends with the kinda people he was friends with…a pretty diverse group from all strata of society with a bias towards the marginalised. We want to literally become part of the very fabric of this community to the extent that they greet me like they greet the people who’ve lived here all their lives. The hope of this community in Torry is the gospel of the Kingdom and it has to be made tangible. Meeting needs is a key for us…there are so many. Yes, we want to meet them as a simple expression of God’s love, no strings, but we also want to connect deeper with people when the door is open for that.

Make. Make Disciples. Invest in people’s lives. Don’t wait for them to pray a prayer to accept Jesus or say they want to follow Jesus to invest in them as people. Disciple making is another way of describing evangelism, and of building meaningful relationships. As you build those relationships, seek to discern what God has in his heart for each person.

Jesus commanded us to make disciples. Disciple making is about introducing people to Jesus in such a way that they get to know him personally, and then learn to love and obey him. When it’s the right time, teach people the seven commands of Jesus:

repent and believe
be baptized
gather with others
make disciples of all nations
Do not hesitate to tell new believers the cost of following Jesus. Emphasize the privilege of going to other nations so God’s mission is part of their spiritual DNA.

ac – in a culture where people can be several generations de-churched, there are ground that has to be covered before the gospel makes sense. Yet, as we make disciples, we don’t stop at ‘making mates’ because we want to disciple. The HUGE challenge for me is in asking ‘when did Jesus disciples become disciples’ followed straight away by the question ‘when did they realise he was their Saviour and Lord?’ I think this question has an important missiological challenge in that we need to recognise that discipship isn’t just something that happens after evangelism….but evangelism comes at some poing in the discipleship process. Go figure.

Gather. Gather those you meet who are spiritually open with other seekers for fun, hanging out, enjoying common interests, prayer, and study of God’s word. Focus on the words and stories of Jesus. Don’t wait for them to say they want to become a follower of Jesus to gather people into a community of friends. Gathering around a meal with others is one of the best ways to build community. Jesus said that where two or three gather in his name, he is with them. This is “church” in it’s simplest, most essential form. Nothing more is needed to “be church.” There is more that can be done to contribute to growing a healthy, vibrant church (see Acts 2:42-47), but gathering people together is the beginning of planting that church.

ac – I confess to ‘gathering’ being one of the biggest challenges. In any sized group where you have ‘pre-made’ Christians, its so difficult to lay aside any pattern other than what we are used to and somehow we thing we’ve been short changed unless we have a hymn-sandwich type meeting. In our community, we have small gatherings of already committed disciples, we have small gatherings of potential disciples, and we have a larger gathering of all those. Those gatherings have varying levels of success but we persevere with them believing that fruit will be shown either way! Getting people together and helping form community can’t be forced, it needs time and investment from everyone. Challenging!

Then, having gathered people successfully, that task is then to lay the foundation, Jesus Christ, and teach the church how to build on that foundation in the way that they meet.

Multiply. Plan for growth. From the beginning, train new believers to take responsibility for your meetings and outreaches. Stay in the background as much as possible to encourage others to grow and exercise their spiritual gifts. As soon as you reach 15-20 people, multiply. Start a new gathering. Give those you have been investing in assignments that will help you discern their giftings, strengths, and weaknesses. Build the community from the beginning, just like Paul did, by facilitating the development of indigenous leadership.

ac – we see encouraging signs here in Torry. Our longer terms disciples are growing in confidence in leading and speaking to one another spiritually to build each other up. We’re planning for growth in training our folks to lead small groups. Its key because this thing won’t happen on the effort and ministry of one or two people, its a whole community thing. Praise God.

Let’s practice these five simple steps (praymeetmakegathermultiply) to see the gospel transform the lives of people and so that we can see a church planting movement that spans the nations.

ac – The World for God!