A senior visiting pastor who works into many church situations recently asked a friend of mine, on hearing that we would be planting into Tallinn next summer, and looking to my friend he asked "So, can Tim do it?"
Now I know what he meant, to a degree, but there is much to that whole thought pattern that really bothers me. Really bothers me! What is being asked in partly "Does Tim possess the level of leadership skill to lead a church plant - is he enough of a visionary, and leader, a team leader, to be able to do it. Does he have what it takes? Can he cut it in the big league?"
For a while I battled with this in my mind - it didn't sit well with me from the moment I heard it. And then, after a few days, I heard the answer. To the question of whether Tim can plant the church in Tallinn, and for any future churches after that, I hope that now and every answer in the future will always be a resounding NO - only God can do it!
You see, even if I become better at this all, even if I speak in such a way that draws people, if I move in gifts of the spirit that sees people turning to God, even if I see large churches emerge, I never want it to be me that does it, so as to rely upon my own abilities, gifting's and qualities. Then there is no room for God. And to think that ANYBODY can actually do it themselves is a scary thought!
It made me think as well - is anyone actually just called to church planting, or rather are they not called to a specific town or city, to plant a church there. Therefore based on calling for a specific location.
A calling that comes from God, and if God has called somebody into something, then surely that is what qualifies them to be involved in that church plant. Our questioning should be on the calling, their character (up until that moment), their track record (but that should only be a guide - it would be wrong to assume one way or the other based on someones past, as each calling comes fresh and needs to be heard for what it is).
I don't want to get 'good' at church planting - yes, I want to do things well and see churches grow, but each church has its own challenges and things that make it different to the others - and therefore without God working in each setting, without totally being reliant on the God that saves, the God that breaks in, the God that transforms, we end up relying on christian superstars that end up relying on self, rather than the one that made them who they are.
Yes, I might do it differently to others. That's because I am different. Yes, I might make mistakes. That's because I'm not perfect. Yes I might frustrate some. That's because you don't understand me. But it will be God that plants His church, and not me, and I don't want that ever to change. Because if God did call me to Tallinn (as opposed to someone else), then in His great scheme and purpose, there must be some reason for that. God doesn't make mistakes. Yes, maybe He is choosing to display his glory by using the weak things of this world, but that doesn't bother me. Compared to God, I am very weak - and here's a news flash - so are you! So let's run away from this narrow thinking that rely's on man - and look to the God who made man and chose for his glory to be displayed through man to reach all men for His kingdom, His glory and HIS fame!