Read: Matthew 10
In this incredible chapter we read about Jesus sending out his fledgling followers we revere as His amazing disciples. They weren’t so amazing when they started, but they had one major advantage: they knew. They knew Jesus was the Messiah because they walked and talk and watched Him do things beyond their wildest imaginations. Here’s the thing: we know that at well! We might be beaten down by the world in which we live, but we know beyond a doubt that Jesus is the Messiah and He has given us the same Spirit — “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us” (Romans 12:6).
Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. Matthew 10:6-8
One of the first and most important steps in church planting is to affirm the calling of the pastor. It’s significant for obvious reasons because the level of responsibility is incredible and the cost of failure is devastating for the pastor and everyone associated with the church plant.
In this incredible passage in Matthew, Jesus himself sends out the disciples He has called. Including Judas. Let that sink in for a while. He sends them out with power and authority, with words and capability far beyond their training as fishermen, tax collectors, etc. Even though The Pentecost event has yet to occur, Jesus provides assurance that the Spirit is there:
But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Matthew 10:19-20
I’d rather only give you verse 20 above, for it will not be…, but look what Jesus tells them before letting them know the Spirit will provide the right words: when they arrest you… Hold on! How am I supposed to hear the rest of the sentence when it starts with arrest, flogging, and humiliation? Are you sure you want to be called to pastor a church? Really?
Jesus continues His own special form of encouragement:
You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. Matthew 10:22
Yes! Sign me up! Really?
Many times we encourage someone to enter ministry, anything from teaching a class to starting a church, by painting this wonderful picture of service with a pat on the back from Jesus. The lesson I take from these words would suggest the opposite is more appropriate, but don’t overdo it! Here’s what I mean. In church planting circles, you hear over and over again, “church planting is hard…” It goes deeper than that, but that’s the tagline for any church planting discussion.
While it’s true, it is incredibly rewarding to be working in a field that is commensurate with your gifts and abilities. This past Sunday we spent the afternoon at Hope Fellowship talking about this very subject. I would contend that working within your gifts is always a joy–even when it sucks!
Greg Wiens would call this your A-Game.
“The challenge with most of us in ministry is that we are not really clear about what our A-game is and what venues of ministry capitalize on our strengths. Too many of us fulfill roles which are either based on someone’s expectations or that simply don’t align with our strengths. Every leader has a venue for their leadership to extend the Kingdom.”HGC Assessments
Find your A-Game through assessments, introspective times surrounded by prayer, and working with a mentor or coach — the counsel of those who have gone before. You might feel like a pioneer, but you are not the only one who has had to step out in faith and do that which God has called them to do!
Here some words of encouragement from Jesus:
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28
We are not in this alone, far from it, we go to battle with the Holy Spirit indwelling within us. Lord, help us to find our A-Game, to go into the world with confidence that You are there with us, that You are for us and that You have a unique plan for our lives to grow Your kingdom on earth — today!