I spent the last week in Philadelphia with some great friends, great sermons and great amounts of Starbucks! Plant was the first (American) Church Planting Conference held by Sovereign Grace Ministries. It had a really helpful line up of speakers from church planters, church re-planters, new and old.
For me, the main theme that emerged was the character of the character and convictions of the church leader. There was a lot of talk about what kind of person should plant/ lead a church. I felt very challenged and awkward for a lot of the conference as my heart was exposed and my sin revealed. Yet, the gospel was free flowing. In every session the balm of the gospel was applied and we left empowered by the grace that is ours in the gospel.
It was brilliant to see such different people who had led works in such different ways. There was CJ Mahaney who had planted a huge church and group of churches from scratch; Mark Dever who took a dwindling church and turned it into a flourishing church and international ministry; Mike Mckinley who had transplanted into a dying church and now had a church of a few hundred that had planted around 10 churches since his arrival 6 years ago! I loved spending time with Gareth Lloyd who planted a church in Wales about 5 years ago – showing that this is something that we can do in Wales.
An underlying theme was that we should look more at re-vitalising churches. That is, taking a church that is nearly dead and bringing new life. I remember being a part of Minster Church in Cardiff which was a joining of a smaller congregation and a group from a large church- that become a church that has had a huge missionary impact and a real Light in the darkness.
So, what does this mean for me?
Personally it means that I need to grow in grace and keep the main thing the main thing. CJ gave a talk that I need to listen to again and again – what are we looking for in a church planter/ leader? A heart for the gospel and a heart for the people. Simple, yet vital.
What about Ammanford Evangelical Church?
This is my church, and where as a family we feel called to stay. But that does not close the door to church planting. We need to see church planting as the ‘normal means of and result of obeying the Great Commission‘ (Mark Dever). Church planting needs to be high on our agenda, we need to be praying hard and looking for a man to lead a plat in the future.
Thanks to all those who made the trip possible and so enjoyable.
CJ’s talk is available to listen to here
You can read my reviews of 2 books on church planting by some of the conference speakers: