Planting and evangelism are also responsible for creating momentum where none exists versus maintaining existing momentum.
Leadership development is viewed by most planters and evangelists as a non-negotiable obstacle to becoming financially visible and growing the church challenge – the struggle to cultivate a reproducing leadership culture. Seven possible solutions to the challenges facing church planting and evangelism have been provided below.
1. Employment of Effective Strategies
This is also known as the employment of youth ministries. We have experienced and are still experiencing a mass exodus of our youths and students to some other denominations and faiths.
These young minds would be useful in the area of evangelism and missions if they are encouraged and meaningfully engaged in missions. We can also encourage the current willing students and youths through our mission efforts. (2 Sam. 23:8-14)
2. Education for Church Planters/Evangelists
Hesselgrave asserts that Christians with natural and professional abilities can employ their skills as part of resources for reproducing churches. He highlighted the examples of skills and natural gifts when he states.
Such diverse abilities as those of surgeon, mechanic, pilot, musician, radio technician, writer, artist, and linguist can be and should be utilized in evangelism and church extension. Garrison describes the church planting movements thus
“A church planting movement is a rapid multiplication of indigenous churches that sweeps through a people group or population segment… always outstrip the population growth rate as they race toward reading the entire people group…
Every church is engaged in starting multiple new churches. Church planting movements or evangelism multiply churches and believers like Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes… the first church or churches may be started by outsiders, but very quickly the monuments shifts from the outsiders to the insiders…
Though church planters may start the first churches themselves get into the act… Movements occur within people groups or interrelated population segments… shared language and ethnic boundaries. As the gospel works its power in the lives of these new believers, it compels them to take the message of hope to other people groups.
3. Empowerment for Rural Dwellers
The staggering figures of people in need often numb us and lead us to conclude that we can do nothing. But we can do something. Nurses, doctors, health personnel, and teachers can make a difference in the Third World. Craftsmen of all kinds can teach trades to Third World people.
Agricultural missionaries can help the farmers of the world to produce more and better foodstuffs. Business people could help nationals to set up small businesses that would employ church members and an economic base to help support missionary and social agencies.
Business people or others could also try to develop inexpensive means of processing Soybeans, thus, providing a protein supply for the vast tsetse-infested regions of Africa where cattle cannot be raised. These are only a few examples of what Christians of the more developed world might do for the Third World.
Effective and Appropriate Strategies will enhance the expected result in church planting or evangelism works. However, the church planters and evangelists must understand the environment and the spiritual atmosphere of the location, and the worldview of the people.
Communicating with the right language is very essential to reach out to them effectively. The planter and evangelists must be cautious about everything he or she passes across to the people, and the way and manner it is being disseminated because people are watching and they are going to copy his words and lifestyles.
4. Understanding Equipping Leaders/Human Resources
Leadership development was the most frequently cited challenge of church planting and evangelism. Others are recruiting and developing leaders; implementing teams and creating a reproducible leadership development approach; developing an eldership board; hiring and leading staff; discerning charges required to facilitate growth and healthy decision-making, and learning to delegate to and empower volunteers.
The planter/evangelism is now responsible for implementing a new process from scratch and with little help. Citing Acts 20:20-28, “It was clear from these verses and the Holy Spirit’s impressions that we could develop a way to shepherd the shepherds as they shepherd their flock, and the result would be a healthy flock reproducing churches and disciples for the glory of God.
We want every pastor and church leader to be a qualified one. Gospel-empowered, healthy, disciple-making follower of Jesus led others to the Chief Shepherd. Coaching ministry leaders is a key aspect of their ongoing effectiveness as shepherds of the Lord’s flock.
5. Spiritual Warfare
Church planting/evangelism is spiritual warfare, and a survey of participants commented that in a variety of ways, Satan’s goal is to keep lost people in his grips. His tactic is with a purpose – to stop people in the world from seeing and hearing the Gospel.
Paul did not just include the topic of warfare at the end of his letter to the Ephesians because it was a last-minute thought. He wanted everything he had been inspired to say to be seen through the lenses of spiritual warfare. Thus, “Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength.
Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of the darkness, and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens” (Eph. 6:10-12)
This means to indicate that church planters/evangelists don’t plant alone, launch their first service alone, do post-launch ministry alone, do marriage alone, do parenting alone, etc.
The impetus rests on both the planters and support providers to ensure that a church and its leaders live in a biblical community – a multi-dimensional community that cultivates a prevailing church, and ultimately, serves as a tangible expression of Jesus’ love for the people far from Him.
7. Spousal Support
Church planting/evangelism needs spousal support; because a spouse is integral in the birth of a church. Thus, according to Brent Foulke, ‘’Every church planting leader agrees with the theological conviction that a call to church planting/evangelism is a call for both spouses.
This does not mean that both spouses must engage in the ministry according to any specific arrangement. However, what it means is that both are convinced that God’s call for their marriage and their family is to be involved in the establishment of a new church.
A healthy marriage, whether both are visibly involved or not in the new church program, is one of the best gifts a church planter/evangelist can bring. Lack of clarity on the part of either spouse is dangerous, at best, and deathly to a marriage and a new church at worst.’’
8. Spiritual Support
As observed by Westridge’s Bloye, ‘’The road to planting a church is filled with tremendous blessings and at the same time, disastrous landmines.
I have watched things like loneliness, criticism, stress; misguided priorities, moral failure, and even early success derailed some very gifted church planters/evangelists from living out of their dream of pasturing a prevailing church.
It’s not enough to just have some long-distance advisory board that does nothing more than get a salary. Every church planter/evangelist must have a pastor, a mentor, or an accountability team in their weekly lives to help them navigate through some of these pitfalls on the path. Individual healthiness is so important to make it for the long haul’’.
The church needs to earn the opportunity of the crisis in the world to preach the gospel and make disciples of nations before the antichrist will manifest. The onus is on us as the time church needs to fashion different methods to reach the unreached and touch the untouched with the gospel.
Today’s reality reveals that many church planters and ministers are struggling. They are discouraged and hurting, with most walking through several challenges. But the news isn’t entirely discouraging. Challenges almost always create redemptive opportunities for change.
Knowing these specific issues opens up endless possibilities for both planters and support providers to seek out and facilitate peer-to-peer fellowship and accountability, develop coaching that equips the planter and shepherds the soul; redefine the church planting window and evangelism to extend to the post-launch phase; and one of the greatest potential areas, create spousal support.
This is the only time the church needs to wake up for her God-given responsibility.
This lecture was delivered by Rev. Cephas Olufemi Bello (Ph.D) at Ibadan Baptist Conference Annual Kingdom Workers’ Retreat