Tell us a little about yourself and your ministry.
I was called to preach at 24 years old while serving in the military in Operation Desert Storm. After returning from the Middle East, I joined the ministers-in-training program at The Pentecostals of Murfreesboro, TN, where my pastor, Bro. Phil DePriest, was casting vision for daughter works around our area. My wife, Susan, and I helped with the first church plant in Woodbury and a few years later, we started our own daughter work in Mt. Juliet, Tenn.
It was not until after many highs and lows that God began to move in a great way there. We built a new facility, planted two daughter works, sent out multiple ministers to other churches, and developed one of two Purpose Institute campuses in Tennessee. Finally, in 2014 God redirected me to St. Louis where I currently serve as the Director of Promotions for North American Missions.
In your opinion, what are the most important keys to success in church planting?
Preparation. It is vital to prepare yourself financially and spiritually, and to study the best practices of current Apostolic church planters. Serve in a church plant for a week. Have lunch with a church planter. If at all possible, attend North American Missions “LAUNCH” training program, and you can find out more at www.launchachurch.faith.
Clarity. You must have full confidence in your calling to your city, as there will be days your commitment will be tested. From my experience, there is a cycle in church planting. Years 1-3: You are so excited and full of faith that your inertia carries you for a while. Years 4-6: The honeymoon is over, and you struggle to disciple and keep all those folks you won. Years 7-10: If you can stay focused, you will see true growth.
Connection. Except for personal devotion and family, a church planter’s highest priority should be people. Stay connected to your pastor, a mentor, and peers that you trust. Keep sermons simple and make connections to build relationships with people in your city and bring guests into your church.
Team Ministry. Church planters are typically go-getters and can fall into a trap of doing everything themselves, but team ministry is Biblical and vital. Jesus developed a core of disciples who launched the church after they were trained and empowered by the Spirit. If I were planting a church today, I would spend less time with the entire church and those connected to the church, and more time with those few who show a hunger and a willingness to grow.
Self-Care & Improvement. Generally speaking, the growth of the church mirrors the growth of the leader. Personal growth, development and discipline should be priorities. It must be intentional and must continue throughout your life. Schedule vacations and block off family time. Take care of yourself. Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap.
Persistence. There is incredible power in staying put. You will outlast your enemies, gain credibility and good reputation in the city, and your roots will grow deep.
What are the most common barriers that cause a church planter to fail?
Unrealistic Expectations. Every church planter goes into his or her city with past experiences and current comparisons. This is okay, as long as it is not used as a benchmark of success. What works in one area may not be as effective in your area. Social media makes comparison almost unavoidable, but one usually only reports the best news. It is important to stop comparing yourself with everyone else and focus on the simple joy of obeying God and serving your city.
Financial Pressure. Do not plant a church if you are broke. If God has called you to a city, you should get out of consumer debt, live on a budget and practice good stewardship habits. North American Missions has several programs that assist church planters, such as Christmas for Christ, Metro Missions, Church in a Day and other resources.
Isolation. We are the “body” of Christ, and we need one another. When discouraged, there is temptation to avoid checking in with a mentor, because we have the perception that we are supposed to be “up” all the time. It is vital to stay connected to your pastor, district, mentors, peers and family, especially in the rough times.
What will a reader learn by reading your book, Active Duty?
The reader will find principles of church planting that I have discovered since that initial journey through planting other daughter works and working with church planters all over North America. It is not geographically or culturally based. My goal was to share principles that will work in any location or situation.
Who are the target audiences for your book? Who truly needs to read it?
Young people who have an interest in planting a church, couples who are ready to plant, and those who are already planting would benefit greatly from this book. Pastors of established churches can derive motivation and ideas to help them plant preaching points and daughter works. I believe the future of church planting is for established churches to become sending churches.
What can a local pastor do to best ensure that a daughter work succeeds?
The local pastor is the key to their daughter work success. They must stay connected and communicate clearly and often. I suggest allowing the daughter work pastor’s children to attend children and youth events and sending a few families to assist with the church. Helping financially is also vital. Initially, I recommend that the mother church handle the funds, but there should be a plan to release that task.
How to purchase, cost, etc. for your book? Contact info?
Active Duty is available at Pentecostal Publishing House or on Amazon.com. The price is $13.99 for a paperback or a Kindle version for $8.99. If interested in bulk orders of 10 or more, please contact Bro. Scott Armstrong personally for a discount at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (615) 739-7458.