Union is partnering with Acts 29 church planter Greg Willson in The Church Plant Podcast. 

You can listen to episode 1 at Union Publishing.

Why start another podcast about church planting?

I’ve found there are many resources out there that help with theology, especially in a new church. There are also many resources that help with the practical and technical aspects of planting a church. We also have access to a fair amount of interviews available from people who have done it and lived to tell about it.

But with all of these resources, and praise God for them, I’ve found a gap. There aren’t many resources out there that tell the story of planting a church while planting a church. There are interviews and case studies out there, but they often tend to be so much after the fact that the drama and struggle is lost. Having a megachurch pastor talk about how it all started in their living room is inspirational and worth praising God for, but as the pastor stands in front of the 5,000 in attendance, it all feels a bit too safe. This is no fault of the pastor, but we tell stories differently when we can see how it all worked out, and that’s a good thing.

As a church planter myself, though, I want to hear stories of people planting churches while they’re planting. With the highs and lows that accompany it all. What are the fears and doubts of the planter? How does the pastor deal with the fragility of it all? What ended up being surprising, how did they get caught off guard? Is this still something worth doing if it all does go belly up? For the aspiring church planter there are many questions of calling and competency. What does that all look like in the thick of it?

Taking a risk

I think the podcast medium is perfect for these long form stories, yet I couldn’t find many on church planting. So I decided to tell my own. Church Plant is a podcast about planting a church. There is one episode available now and we will release 11 more in the future. This is a bit of a daunting task: we’re recording these episodes in the moment and as it happens, while planting. Everything could go horribly wrong. If, in God’s providence, that indeed does happen, I still consider what I’m doing a worthy risk. And I’d like to talk more about that risk, not to draw attention to myself, but so that others would take that risk. And so others who wouldn’t normally hear a story like this would hear about it and get involved themselves.

In 1 Thessalonians 2:8, Paul writes, “…because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” Paul loved the church and shared with them the truth that leads to life: the gospel. The story that God Himself came into our world, took on our brokenness, and gives us a new life in Him. This relentless pursuit is meant to culminate in our communities on earth, reflecting the glory of God to all.

Paul shared the gospel, and he shared something else. He shared his life, as well as the lives of those with him. Paul didn’t just detach good theology from good living, he saw them as married together. The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says that Paul uses this word “delight” to “to show that he does not serve the church merely in obedience to his commission but out of heartfelt love for it.”

Love the Church

I have a deep love for the church. I want others to experience the love for the church, and more than that, to know the love of God Himself! So we plant churches calling people who don’t know Jesus to join His family. For those who are already brothers and sisters in Christ, we call them to know Jesus deeper still. Church planting has increased my love for the church, as I labour on its behalf.

Church Plant will be the story of starting a new church: from our initial calling to getting training to gathering a core team, even how we came up with a name, all the way towards our (hopeful) launch of public weekly services. In this story we hope to illuminate what theology looks like when fleshed out in normal, everyday life.

I hope the people who listen to these episodes will be encouraged that being a church planter is less about the dynamism of a person and more about the God who empowers. I hope people will come away more in awe of God and His goodness to people who were formerly His enemies. I hope people will have their own hearts stirred to get involved with the work of church planting in all its various ways. I want more people to plant more churches, to get involved more with more church plants, to give more, pray more, and have our affections moved for new communities formed by the gospel.

More than me or anyone else, Jesus loves His church. He leads it and calls others to it. Telling our story is not to make much of us, it’s to point to how King Jesus is leading a group of well meaning (perhaps) but clueless (definitely) and broken (most definitely) people on His mission to make all things new. Will you listen along?