Church Planting – What’s the Motive?

OK, I will apologize up front because I am aware this next collection of babbling is just that; a collection of babbling. Random thoughts are running through my head and I just want to jot them down more than go through a large process of organizing them so good luck keeping up.

First, I am a church planter. The Shepherd’s Fellowship was planted with a team of 7 people about 7 years ago to be a relational church experience reaching out to those hurt by church and Christians before. At the time, that was not ground breaking on a national level but on a local level, the personality of the church was different than other options I saw in our area. Since that time, we have had the ups and down of a real community but we have been VERY blessed in our journey.

Over the last couple years, there have been multiple new churches planted in our area with different personalities. While I respect their heart and believe in church planting, I was surprised that even I started asking the question recently…. does Marion really need yet another church plant? It seems almost any conceived personality of a church is represented here to service the body of Christ from contemporary to traditional, home church to mega church, style to little country church, and beyond.

At first I was disappointed in myself. Am I jealous of these new churches? Am I threatened? In all honesty, that did not seem to be the case. I do believe the statistics prove that new churches are very powerful in the kingdom work so what was the thorn in my side?

After a lot of prayer and thought, I think I found two reasons I have been bothered by some (not all) of this news….

The first reason I’m disappointed is that the churches already in place aren’t stepping up in some critical areas so these church planters feel called to fill some gaps. I pray Christ does not have to bypass the established church again like He did in His days on the earth because His followers lost focus on Him. The established church has great opportunity to exalt Christ in our community and don’t want to miss it through lack of action, self focus, comfort zones or any other excuse.

The second reason is because SOME of these church plants….. give me some grace on this….. seem to be pastor based motives instead of God based motives. Too many churches seem to have a hint of being created because the pastor and some close friends are mad or upset at the church the pastor was at and start a new church because the pastor doesn’t want to have to move from the area and wants to have it their way.

Wow! How cynical is that! Take a breath … there are times God uses frustration and conflict to start something new and it’s blessed. However, some of the stories coming to my ears from church planters are not God centered.

Please be cautious! If God is calling you to plant a church, be certain and do it well by creating a firm foundation through mentorship, study, prayer, planning and more. My prayers are with you and let me know if I can help you in any way!

However, in the long run, if you are doing it for personal motives and not Godly, trust me…. God’s hand will not be on it and people will get hurt for all the wrong reasons. Please keep in mind that starting a church is a noble desire but MUST, MUST, MUST be God led and I would suggest not moving forward until He confirms His plans and leads forward. The joys of being in the leadership in the church are overwhelming but so are the tough days of challenge. If it is not a calling from on high, you will not survive the storms. When that happens, people who put their trust in you are dashed against the rocks. Tread carefully…….

Random thoughts……

About Tom Hypes

Tom Hypes is an ordained Pastor who has served in churches and the camping ministry for over 25 years. He currently leads at The Shepherd's Fellowship and volunteers at Leapin' Outreach (clothing ministry), Marion County Citizen Circle (helping clients with transitions from prison to community), Kirkpatrick Food Pantry, and ministers in the local nursing homes. He has also contributed to Group Magazine, CBA Marketplace, and Youth Worker Magazine. He serves in his ministry in the partnership with his family; wife Jenni, son Ryan, and daughter Emily.