Saturday, July 10, 2010

Pastor Paul Martin, on Getting Ready for Church Death

This post was so encouraging/challenging to me that I copy/paste it in full. In it Pastor Paul Martin (a dear friend and mentor of mine) tells the story of sending out his closest co-worker to plant another church. I'll let Paul tell the rest, but his story resonates with my heart. The question every pastor needs to ask himself is simply: am I an empire builder who wants first and foremost to see my church grow no matter what the cost is to the rest of the body of Christ, or, am I a kingdom builder who wants first and foremost to see the gospel of Jesus Christ advance, no matter what the cost is to my church (and, might I add, my pride)? In my heart I often lean towards the former, but as God sanctifies me, the latter is my heartbeat, more and more. Here it is:
We are preparing to send Julian out to start a new church in the 401/DVP area of Toronto. It is an interesting time in our church.

We have asked all our members to consider going with him, which means I might need to go back to running photocopies at the steel plant! I am praying the Lord leaves us enough people to keep things moving here and I suspect that He will. But seasons like this force you to look at everything with an open hand. That can be hard.

I was happy to read this yesterday in The Trellis and the Vine:

Gospel growth… “means we must be willing to lose people from our own congregation if that it better for the growth of the gospel. We must be happy to send members off to other places so that the gospel may grow there as well. And be warned: this will happen if you take gospel growth and training seriously. If you pour your time into people, and mentor and train them, the consequence will often be that some of your best people – in whom you have invested countless hours – will leave you. They will go the mission field. They will join a church-planting team in another part of your city. They will take a job in a different part of the country because the gospel need is so great there. They will undertake further training, perhaps at theological college or seminary. A commitment to the growth of the gospel will mean that we train people towards maturity not for the benefit of our own churches or fellowships but for the benefit of Christ’s kingdom.”

In the last few months, we have
  • sent one man hundreds of miles away for further training
  • sent one couple to the opposite side of our city to help plant a new church
  • sent one newly converted student back to her home country to evangelize friends and family there
  • one man and his family to the other side of our province to work in an existing church
  • one man and another family to our downtown church plant
  • one family to Romania to work with orphans
  • and as of this Sunday another young man to pastor a small church two hours north of the city.

And now we prepare to send off the man who has been my Caleb/Jonathan/ Timothy for the last ten years.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

Gospel growth always requires death. Bring it to us, Lord… but stay close by our side!

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