Several years ago, at a Verge conference, Alan Hirsch said: "Every believer is a church planter; and every church is a church planting church."
Now, let me say, that this makes absolutely no sense whatsoever… unless you have a Biblical understanding of the organic nature of church.
As long as we think of church as a meeting, a place, or an organized something, we will continually discount ourselves and others from being ‘church planters.’ But when we see that the church is a natural, organic expression of believers, who are connected to Jesus, expressing Him with others in a wide variety of ways, then we can begin to understand that Alan does speak the truth.
The church (we-folk) initiates new sprouts (planting) every time we initiate anything spiritual among any group of people, friends, or colleagues whether reached or lost or anything in between. In fact, isn’t this what the church does? We plant seeds of life into the lives of others. This may be informal or formal. It may start informal and become more formal. It may start formal and become informal. Whatever it looks like, the church (God’s people) continually plants seeds of Kingdom word and actions into the lives of others. That is, simply, who we are.
Keys to being a church planting believer
I believe, to see this in our lives more clearly, we can do five things:
1. Keep Jesus as our Source and Guide. Sure, we can learn from others and need to, but organic life, by definition, flows out of our organic connection with Jesus Himself.
2. Recognize that each of us plants seeds differently. We need to honor who we are and the spiritual gifts God has given to each of us. Some evangelize with their words, others show much compassion with their actions and by their love as well as words. Some initiate things among larger groups of people, others with just one other individual. Some of us are comfortable among youth, others among immigrants, etc. Some of us are passionate about sowing among the least reached, others feel drawn to heal and mature existing believers. I could go on and on. The point is that the organic expression of ‘church’ is meant to take many different forms and have many different looks as each believer and group of believers takes the initiative to be seed planters in his/her own way.
3. Get better at it. Whichever way God uses us to plant seeds into the lives of others, we can grow into better farmers. Learn from others, hone your skills and tools, and improve your work. This does not mean that the goal is, necessarily, bigger and more impressive. It may be just the one that we are called to at this time. Great! Plant well and seek fruitfulness!
4. Build relationships around living out a divine connection with Jesus. It’s not a formula, it’s a lifestyle you have developed that keeps you connected to Him, to His voice, and to His power. You share this with others and help them experience this same connection. This is called discipleship. And when you gather together, in whatever setting, to experience God, this is called a church gathering.
5. Finally, organic life reproduces itself. However it is we are called to plant into the lives of friends, family, neighbors, other groups in other places—whatever it is we are doing—always invite those we touch to do the same. In other words, whatever you do, reproduce yourself. Thus ‘organic’ remains ‘alive.’
In short, plant Jesus as He leads you, and help those you plant seeds in to do the same.