When it comes to church planting, I’ll always take one pioneer over 20 pudgy Christians. Pioneers are the drivers of church planting. (Yes, of course I know that the Lord powers the work, but He works through pioneers to plant churches.)
Church planters must have spiritual pioneers. If a few spiritual pioneers join the work, then the plant has a good dose of the right stuff for a healthy and strong church.
A pioneer is different from an ordinary person. A pioneer doesn’t demand commonly expected conveniences and comforts. He knows the road will be bumpy and dirty. There won’t be air conditioning or hot showers. No refrigerators and no microwave ovens. Pioneers build their own shelters and hunt their own food. They expect hardship.
Pioneers aren’t pioneers because they love hardship, but because they have vision for something better than what they left behind. They look to the reward. They endure hardship because they can see the picture of the future they’re building. They want a hand in building that future. They’re excited to do the heavy lifting.
It’s the same with spiritual pioneers.
The very best Christians are excited about church planting. They may not actually be the ones go out to plant a church, but they understand that church is not about their comfort. It’s not about cushy chairs and eye-popping videos. It’s not about giggly passion for a rock star preacher or infatuation with Broadway-quality stage production. Church is about hard-edged, dusty and bumpy disciple-making for the fame of the Lord.
There’s nothing better in this world than throwing yourself into the work of a life-giving church. That church is defined by making, baptizing and teaching disciples of Jesus Christ. Spiritual pioneers get that. And they infect others with the vision. That’s why church planters—from the get-go of their work—need to look for spiritual pioneers.
Brooks Atkinson, who was a movie critic and journalist, had a comment on what made America great: This nation was built by men who took risks—pioneers who were not afraid of the wilderness, business men who were not afraid of failure, scientists who were not afraid of the truth, thinkers who were not afraid of progress, dreamers who were not afraid of action.
In church planting, that quote might look like this: The church is built by men and women who take risks. They're pioneers. They're preachers with no fear of rejection, fanatics with no fear of failure, seekers unafraid of the truth, leaders driven by spiritual progress, visionaries brave enough to act.
What the Lord could do with a holy handful of spiritual pioneers. Acts 4:29-31. The Lord honors the proclamation of His Word. He wants pioneers to deliver it and live it.