Church planting is one of the most interesting and, at the same time, dangerous subjects of Christian practice. I highlight three dangers that I see as the most serious.

 

The first danger is pragmatic. Because it is often associated with field methodology and process - from a practical point of view. There is a tendency for those involved to focus more on the results than on the theological foundations of church planting. Consequently, what is biblically and theologically evident becomes less important than what is functional and measurable. I am convinced that all missiological understanding and missionary action must be rooted in a secure biblical-theological foundation to fulfil the mission, since mission is based on faithfulness to God and not on human success.

 

The second danger is sociological — accepting church planting as nothing more than a chain of solutions to human needs. This must be our growing concern, because we live in a society that values ​​utilitarian, rather than transformative proposals. This danger is evident when church planters make decisions based on the sociological interpretation of human needs rather than biblical principles. Thus, the focus is not the gospel but society; they speak of human suffering, not of Christ's sacrifice; they feel fulfilled when they are solving social issues, even if there are not transformed hearts. The sociological proposal is social progress for the joy of man. The purpose of the gospel is the transformation of lives for the glory of God. Of course, in the process of transforming lives there is social transformation (because salt and light influence their surroundings), but the path always begins at the foot of the cross, not at the foot of men.

 

The third danger is ecclesiological. It is linked to one's own understanding of the nature of the church and two extremes must be avoided. The first occurs when a local church dresses in a purely contemplative gospel garb. There is worship and careful study of the Word, but a complete absence of mission. Very soon, the inside story, even the most peripheral and superfluous issues, gain so much importance that the proclaiming mission of the church as well as the tragedy of those who do not know Christ, become a slight and momentary discomfort. The discussion about whether the congregation should sit or stand during the first hymn on Sunday worship gets the spotlight for days, while the challenge of being salting salt and shining light in universities, condominiums, streets, offices and in their own family is put on the back burner.

  

The other extreme of the ecclesiological danger is becoming light that shines and salt that salts, but driven by the flesh and not by God. Thus, church planting, growth, and multiplication occur mingled with a wish to be seen by one´s peers, denominational fame, or the applause of friends, destroying the sincere desire to work only for God, through God, and for the glory of God.

 

Writing his last letter to Timothy, the apostle Paul calls on him to: " Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season ... " (2Tm 4:2). Although this is the central principle in the first five verses of this chapter, the fundamental principle is found in the previous verse in which Paul calls on the young man “before God and Christ Jesus”, qualifying Christ as Lord (“who shall judge the living and the dead”) and as God in mission (“ by his manifestation and by his kingdom”), beginning his appeal in verse 2: “preach the word”.

 

The teaching is clear: The motivation to preach the Word is not us, the church, or even the lost, but Christ. We preach for him. It is in his name that people are saved. It is he who manifested himself in flesh and manifests himself through his church. It is he who builds the kingdom, and his is all the glory. Perhaps the biggest challenge we have as a church is not to do what is right, but to do it for the right motivation. For this to happen it is not enough to have a theology course, read a good book or do a seminar on spirituality. We must move toward the point where, like Paul, we can state, by the grace and blessing of God: " it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me ... " (Gl 2:20).

 

Therefore, let us flee from the pragmatic, sociological and ecclesiological dangers. Let us follow life and service to God with deep fear of the Word and under much prayer, asking God to search our hearts and our true motivations. Let us walk intentionally refusing to do anything for the glory of anyone other than Jesus Christ.

 

Ronaldo Lidorio