“Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.” — Charles Spurgeon
Those are strong words from the Prince of Preachers. They are true for all of us who have been saved by Jesus, set apart as his people, and sent out on his mission. But these words are particularly true for church planters.
Plant the Gospel
I’ve heard it said that “the church doesn’t have a mission, but the mission has a church.” You can plant a “church” in your community without planting the gospel. But if you plant the gospel in your community, you will certainly have a church. That means that before we build out pre-launch service teams, pick a service time, and rent a location, we need to make sure that people are meeting Jesus and applying the gospel to their lives.
Planting the gospel and leading people to trust in it changes lives. When we believe the gospel, sin is completely powerless over us. We can trust that there is no hell for us. This frees us up to confess our sin, which is the first step toward healing for our marriages and friendships. Confession is agreeing with God that we are wrong in our sin.
When we believe that Jesus has fully atoned for our sin and that we are forgiven, then we can forgive others. Forgiveness is not a “be cool, man” approach to sin. We are tempted to view forgiveness as telling our offender, “It’s okay. We’re cool.” That simply isn’t true.
Sin is not okay. It brings death. It put Christ on the cross. Forgiveness is not saying, “It’s okay.” Forgiveness is saying, “It’s not okay. You’ve wounded me. This hurts, and I hate it. But by the grace of God and the finished work of Jesus, we can be okay.”
The gospel is not a fire extinguisher to be kept behind the glass just in case we need it. It is a truth to believe and a tool for relationships. When the gospel is being planted, sin will be confessed, and sin will be forgiven. Not every church changes lives, but the gospel always will.