Thanks to Kenny Stokes who left a note in the "Piper on Planting" blog post. We just talked on the phone. He is a great and gracious guy. I am excited that their church is getting even more engaged in church planting.
Here is some more of what Piper said. It is hard to hear the tone of voice through such things, but it was very pastoral.
And, remember, this was at a church planting conference led by what the web site calls "Today's Top Church Planting Experts," with a big thick book (Gospel Centered Church Planting) by the great Steve Childers on the table, and lots of resources. Context is important here.
Hear Piper's heart... It is powerful and we should listen. We can "do it all" in our own strength, but only God can build a church.
You might also want to check out their church planting residency program.
It is a blessing to learn and be challenged!
Thanks for your teaching at the GCA seminar here at Bethlehem Baptist. As I mentioned yesterday, I hope to invite you to come to Bethlehem to work with our church planters again sometime in the near future. Rest assured, Piper's message was NOT a call for you to quit what you are doing, rather it was a call to all of us who (1) teach church planters and (2) all church planters themselves to go about our work in utter dependence upon the Lord who alone builds the church.
For the record, I took the time to transcript a larger chunk of John Piper's closing admonition to the church planters on the first evening of the Global Church Advancement Seminar (http://www.gca.cc/). Piper closed his message which reflected on Christ's words in Matthew 16:18 as follows:
"'...I will build my church.' (Matthew 16:18).
Jesus never said, I will build my social service agency. He never said I will build my parachurch ministry. He never said I will build my university or my Christian college or my Christian school. He said, "I will build my church." One institution in all the universe is given this promise. 'I will build my church.' So, brothers, be encouraged that you are about something extraordinarily important.
Let me just give one last counsel or piece of advice. This comes right off of my devotions from this morning. I was reading in Mark 4 (vs. 26-27), where it says, 'The kingdom of heaven is as if a man should sow seed on the ground. And then he sleeps and wakes, night and day. And the seed grows and sprouts. He knows not how.'
And my closing exhortation negatively is you don't know how to grow the kingdom of God. Beware of conferences. Beware of books. Beware of seminars that tell you how to plant the church. You don't know how to plant the church. The bible says you cannot know this. This is God's doing. It is mysterious, it is deep, it is awesome. You go to bed at night. You get up in the morning. You sow your seed. And it sprouts. You know not how.
Watch out for know-alls. They don't know how to grow the church. If they think they know, it isn't the church they're growing. This is a work of the sovereign God. It is a profound and supernatural mystery to open the heart of Lydia (Acts 16:14), to liberate the servant girl (Acts 16:18), to shatter the prison and the heart of the jailer (Acts 16:32-33).
So, my counsel is, brothers, give your life to sowing. Take this glorious Word of God and preach it. Preach Christ. Preach the scriptures. Preach the cross. Most of the people in the world don't know what is in this book. And faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.
'I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.' (Matthew 16:18).
And I will do the decisive building, says the Lord. Conferences and seminars and books that tell you YOU can do this, should not be listened to. They should direct you to Christ and to his word. And to the fact that we don't know anything about how God saves sinners at the depth of their being.
This is a mystery. This is a glory. And amazingly he uses us. He won't do it without the faithful proclamation of the word of God. Be faithful to the word and God will use you to build his church.
God bless you. I love what you are doing. I love you. May he make his name great in this conference."
(END OF PIPER QUOTE)