Church Planting may take you to a new area where you know few people and have limited experience/scope to guide you. This has been my experience. That has pushed me back to the Church Planting documentation in the book of Acts. In Acts 3:1-8, we journey along with Peter and John fresh off of a life-changing encounter with God that has resulted in the planting of the worlds first mega-church (3000 added in one day!). Here it is in HCSB:
Now Peter and John were going up together to the temple complex at the hour of prayer at three in the afternoon. And a man who was lame from birth was carried there and placed every day at the temple gate called Beautiful, so he could beg from those entering the temple complex. When he saw Peter and John about to enter the temple complex, he asked for help. Peter, along with John, looked at him intently and said, “Look at us.” So he turned to them, expecting to get something from them. But Peter said, “I don’t have silver or gold, but what I have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” Then, taking him by the right hand he raised him up, and at once his feet and ankles became strong.
Have you ever worried that you wouldn’t have the resources needed to accomplish the mission/vision of the ministry you lead? Silver and Gold can seem in very short supply at times. This didn’t stop Peter and John from ministering. The lame beggar asked for a hand out as he had on many occasions. He didn’t get one this day. Instead, these apostles gave him what they had - Jesus - in a large dose!
How did they deliver this gift? Personal delivery!
First, they met the man with eye contact and they asked him to look at them. When Jesus looked at the crowds around Him, He often felt compassion and this seems to be the case with Peter and John. When we find ourself in new situations and new ministries we must never lose the personal. We aren’t crunching numbers we are sharing the love of God. How easy it would have been for these men to check their money bag, realize they didn’t have any extra money, and dismiss the man. Instead, they made a connection that led to a miracle.
Second, after they offered the man what they had, they went one step further. They didn’t just leave the ball in his court. They put their hand out and offered a real physical help to get him started. Oh, this is important to any church plant - We must be willing to give a hand up! Hand-outs may seem fruitless but hand-ups are were we can really show God’s Love.
Notice that the man’s legs were strengthened after the apostles reached down for him and after he took their help and stepped up in faith. Our role in God’s Kingdom can be best seen with an outstretched hand.
No matter your ministry context, the resource of compassion and care must never be in short supply. If we distance ourself from the personal, those resources will dry up faster than a bank account in Vegas.
We are still pretty young in this church planting journey (4 years), and so are the different Forever West Plants around the state, but I can look across our Sunday gatherings and tell a story for more than 50% of our folks about how one person/family has been touched personally by another person/family. Take a good look at your surroundings and do an inventory of what you’ve got to give. This may not be what people around you are asking for but it doesn’t mean that isn’t what they truly need. How can you offer a hand up?