Planting From the Harvest Necessitates a Bivocational Approach
I always like pointing out the unwritten rules of church planting. You know … the “musts” of church planting … kickin’ band, strong social media game, cool hip pastor with the right tattoos or facial hair, and so on. Don’t have that? Well, good luck trying to be a “successful church planter.” You’ll underperform because you’re not as cool as the planter down the street. Not only that, but there are unspoken conversations that no one really dares to say out loud. Here’s one … “No one really plants from the harvest.”
We want it. We talk it. But when our funding is dependent upon starting and growing a church that’ll ultimately sustain our livelihood then planting from the harvest is a nicety … a novelty, but not the reality of every church planter I have ever met. Oh, in case you were wondering … I put myself in that same boat as well.
Think about it. You’re talking about someone who is not a follower of Jesus. To go from there to fully convinced and them pouring out their lives before the Lord would take years. And then there’s a continuation of the whole discipleship process that helps them grow into maturity. Part of the growth is spiritual habits like prayer, Bible study, serving, and oh … giving. Again, more years to get there.
So how are we doing on time? How’s your timeline? More than likely your funding structure doesn’t allow this kind of stuff to develop which means we go after “low hanging fruit” … you know, Christians from other churches not really happy because their church has grown too large and they want to be more active. Oh, and then there are those unchurched Christians … those who’ve stopped “attending” church altogether. Many a core group comprises of 90+% of these demographics.
So what is the solution?
Get a job. Start a business or non-profit and plan on years of cultivation. Yes, I said years. Again, we’re talking about planting from the harvest right? Right now most church planting is akin to shopping for your fruit and vegetables at the grocery store. You’re picking what is already there and has already been harvested. But to actually take time to plant … and cultivate … and then harvest? Whew. It takes time.
Do you have time? Listen, none of this is written out of spite nor even cynicism. I simply want to point out the obvious and to have a conversation we need to have but dread. But would the 29-year old version of me listen when I first planted? No, not at all. I was too busy trying to launch and grow the church and didn’t really care (if I’m being honest) where the people came from. The shot clock was ticking.
So what kind of a church planter are you? A grocery store shopper or farmer? We need more intrepid missionary planters (farmers).