“Experience supplies painful proof that traditions once called into being are first called useful, then they become necessary. At last they are too often made idols, and all must bow down to them or be punished. “– J. C. Ryle
Generally when I share the story about my planted church experience, two things become the normal response. Firstly, people want to know what happened to the congregation, and the others want to know how come I could “abandon” them and not take responsibility for them.
Of the forty-plus attendants I had for those two and half months, I can assure you that twenty-five of them have gone on to continue in ministry. Some currently hold house church meetings and are applying the same things they learned about grace, healing and prophesy in their own communities. Others went on to join other churches. In fact, their influence in the churches has been so dramatic that some leaders have publicly denounced me and accused me of plotting to undermine their congregation. The bottom line is, they continue to walk in Christ with the demonstrations of grace and healing in their daily walk, everywhere they go.
I keep in contact with most of them, and help them with challenging questions and concerns, but ultimately I have full confidence in the Christ in them that I need no longer teach them by my words, they are learning by action and living this walk.
That is the answer to the second question. In a day and age where leadership has become the cornerstone of Church, rather than on Christ, it is hard for people to imagine leaving believers in the hands of the Holy Spirit without supervision, oversight and “covering.” The questions always follow, How are they going to be fed Spiritually every week? Who is going to be responsible for them? And sometimes I’m even asked this, how are you going to collect their tithes?
Jesus is the answer to all of these questions – except the last one which, as far as I’m concerned, doesn’t deserve an answer. If my message is rooted in the person of Christ and our Union with Him, I can leave, if it is not, then I’ve built a monument to myself. We forget so often that this was the same model of Church planting used by Paul and the Apostles. He would come into a place, spend a series of months teaching and demonstrating the life in Christ until the people learned to trust in that life in them, and then he would leave, entrusting the congregation to the power of the Holy Spirit and the leadership that naturally rose up in the congregations. Jesus is the one who keeps them; Jesus is the one who teaches them, they are not my responsibility, they are His.
I imparted the knowledge of Jesus Christ in them, to each person in the congregation to a level where they could understand for themselves, and no longer needed me to tell them what to do. They were all actively participating in the ministry instinctively before we got kicked out of the venue, and that is the sign of maturity. The leaders that grew up in that area continue to lead in their various roles today. How could I profess to have Faith in Christ all that time, and suddenly back pedal when it came time to trust them into his hands after we lost our location?
The Lord gave me a very interesting view of what the modern church was doing with lives of believers. I saw groups of men, going around a field of plants of different sizes, trying to pull on the leaves of each plant to get it to grow. Each of the men was shouting out different things while pulling on the leaves. One was saying, “Be Holy!” Another, “Stop Sinning!” And yet another, “Love God more!”
Then in the midst of all this comical hysteria, I saw one man, come up to a plant, remove the rocks and stones from the ground that hindered the plant from pulling water and nutrients from the ground, and then walked away. And that plant that was cleared of debris started to grow; it grew so large that it consumed all the other plants and the entire field. The Rocks, in my opinion are the Guilt, Shame and Condemnation that believers have in their minds that keep them from drawing from the Life of Christ in them, because of traditions that give the wrong view of God. When we set believers Free by sharing the Finished Work of Christ that is the answer to all three issues, they grow all by themselves.
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