If you’ve been exploring the world of church planting you’ve probably realized that “Calling” is a big deal. Simply stated, because church planting is difficult it’s important to know that the God of the universe has called you to do it. But calling can be a tricky business can’t it?
Maybe you know someone with a very dramatic “Calling” story…like your buddy who was walking down the street when lightening struck and spelled out “Brooklyn” on the asphalt. If you have a story like that, praise God. But what about the rest of us? Can you be “called” to church planting without having a lightening strike experience? Here at The Summit Network we spend a lot of time helping men discern their “Calling”. This post is by no means the final word on the subject but I hope it will be helpful for all of us whose cheerios have never spelled out “Los Angeles”.
In this post I’ll start by defining “Calling” and then unpack the first part of that definition. Keep in mind that this definition of “Calling” is for the specific role of Lead Church Planter and I don’t intend to paint every calling with this same brush. So with all of my nuances out of the way here we go, we define “Calling” as:
A passionate and persistent desire, to leverage the entirety of one’s life, to take the gospel to those who have never heard it, accompanied by appropriate spiritual gifts, recognized by mature church leadership, and characterized by an urgency that leads one to bypass other worthy endeavors so as to accomplish the goal.
First Timothy 3:1 is probably a familiar passage to many of you, it says, “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.” It may seem self-evident but a “Called” man must be passionate about church planting, he must “Aspire” to it. Planting must be something he dreams about during his commute, something that makes the hair on his neck stand up and his eyes get big. But I’ve found that there’s a difference between having an “Aspiration” and being “Called”. I think of it as the difference between striking a match and starting a bonfire.
An “Aspiration” is like striking a match. A match will burn brightly for a few seconds and then go out. I’ve experienced it many times, I’ll get excited about something but then it will fade away (New Year’s Resolutions anyone…). But a “Calling” is like starting a bonfire. The match is essential in that it produces the initial energy necessary to start a chain reaction with preassembled material. As the kindling and wood (or newspaper and lighter fluid) catch fire they produce a powerful flame. Even in the face of strong winds a well-built bonfire can burn for hours.
My experience is that God will often “Call” a man by using the match of a sermon or conference to light a pile of wood that’s been assembled over a lifetime. The result is a passion and energy for church planting that isn’t squelched by the winds of opposition that come against it. I’ll close this installment with a quote from Charles Spurgeon (always a good way to close a post right?). On the issue of calling Spurgeon wrote:
“(A calling is not a) sudden impulse unattended by anxious consideration. It should be the outgrowth of our heart in its best moments, the object of our reverent aspirations, the subject of our most fervent prayers.”
If you believe you’re called to plant a church in North America stay tuned for part 2 & 3 of our series and email me at Josh@TheSummitNetwork.com.