One of the greatest things that I have been enjoying in our new church plant is teaching through the Word of God. Simply allowing the Spirit of God to take the Word of God to work in the people of God. We are currently in the Gospel of John and we are learning many valuable truths from it. Although I have personally been in full-time ministry for almost fifteen years and learned many things throughout those years, the things that I am learning as a church planter are completely different. Maybe “different” isn’t the correct word, for many of these truths are not new. Maybe it would be better to say that God is working deeper within my heart. Can you relate? I thought I would share with you some important truths that I have been learning from John the Baptist, that we as church planters need to hear once again. Now I would not limit these truths to church planters only, but to anyone involved in ministry.
1) KNOW WHO YOU ARE NOT
In John chapter one, the crowd around John the Baptist was becoming greater and greater. The Pharisees sent some representatives to John and began to ask him a few questions. “Who are you? Are you Elijah? Are you the Prophet?” (John 1:19-21) As we read over John’s response, it is very clear that John knew who he was not. John knew that he was not the Christ. Although John was sent in the “power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17), he knew he was not Elijah. Although John was truly the last of the OT prophets, he knew that he was not the Prophet that Moses had prophesied about (Deut. 18:15).
As a church planter I believe it is very important that you know who you are not. No doubt you have at least one person that you look up to and a few that you are influenced by, but if you were to take a brief examination in front of the mirror, you are not them. No matter how great they might be, God has not called you to be them. He has called you to be you.
No doubt you have at least one person that you look up to and a few that you are influenced by, but if you were to take a brief examination in front of the mirror, you are not them. No matter how great they might be, God has not called you to be them. He has called you to be you.
2) KNOW WHO YOU ARE
Within the same context, John the Baptist is asked a question that is a very soul-searching question. “Who are you… What do you say about yourself?” (John 1:22) I believe that one of the most important truths that a church planter needs to know is who God has called him to be. John’s response to this question was, “I am ‘the voice of one crying in the wilderness…’” John knew who he was. Later on in John chapter 3, when the crowds were leaving John and beginning to follow after Jesus, he once again reminded his disciples, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but ‘I have been sent before Him.’” (John 3:27-28) Again, John knew who he was. My fellow church planter, may we stop trying to be who we are not and simply be who we are called to be.
My fellow church planter, may we stop trying to be who we are not and simply be who we are called to be.
3) FULFILL YOUR CALLING
Since John knew who he was not and who he was, this freed him to simply do what he was called to do. We know that John was called to ‘make straight the way of the LORD’ (John 1:23) and that was exactly what he did. When the crowds were gathering to him, he knew who he was -he was not the Christ. When the crowds were forsaking him and beginning to follow Jesus, he knew who he was – he was not the Christ, but he was sent before Him. I believe that this truth can be very freeing. Think about it. When the crowds began to forsake John and follow after Jesus, how easily bitterness, jealousy, pride, etc. could have taken over John’s heart. Yet, when we read over John’s life, we see a man that was content with what he was called to do. Instead of comparing or being jealous, we find a man who rejoiced in what he was called to do and rejoiced in what God was calling others to do. John’s true heart came out when he declared,‘He must increase, but I must decrease.’ (John 3:30)
My dear brothers, God has called you. He is not looking for someone else to be in your city and in your location. He is simply calling you to be faithful to what He has given you to do. If you find yourself prone to look over ‘there’ and see how God is working through ‘them,’ may God give you a heart like John the Baptist – rejoice at what God is doing through them. On the other hand, consider the following question, “What am I doing with what God has given me?” Seek to be who you are and to be faithful with what He has given you to do.
My dear brothers, God has called you. He is not looking for someone else to be in your city and in your location. He is simply calling you to be faithful to what He has given you to do.
Joey Roper is the lead and planting pastor of CityLight Hamburg, which you can also follow on Twitter at @CityLightHH.