Church Planting: a journey to get to know the Father

I had a dream after visiting St. Francis’ tomb in Assisi in October 2005. In my dream a young church planter (apostle) approached me and asked me to train him. For some reason I knew that this was the second time that the young apostle had approached me (I did not recognize him–so I took it as a general application after I woke up.). He pressed me to coach him about how to plant churches. It occurred to me that he was only interested in the outcome of the training itself–planting churches.

I said to him: “I don’t think you understand the nature of church planting. You are looking at church planting as a task to do. Your heavenly Father is looking at it as a journey of getting to know Him. God really does not need us as much as we think He does. But he gives us tasks to do that are the avenues and vehicles for getting to know Him. For those of us who are church planters, the avenue to getting to know Him is planting churches. So we should view our task as the path to getting to know Him.

“Now here is the key–we never get to know Him through success. We get to know Him through humility–not success. I have had a lot of success in church planting, but no success has led to me getting to know Him better. The way to know God is through failure. I have rejoiced in my successes, but I have not been led to a deeper walk with Him or greater reliance on Him through success. But in failure I have agonized over my own contribution to the failure and been led to deeper repentance and faith. I have been led deeper into dependence in relationship with Him whereby I grasp new aspects to His glory as I have been driven to His throne through failure. It is in failure that we come to know more deeply our Heavenly Dad.

“I perceive that when you are approaching me to train you, you are doing so because you desire to be successful, not because you want to get to know your Father more deeply. If you want me to train you to get to know the Father I would be happy to—and if the journey through which He has called you is one of an apostle, I think I can be of some service. But realize that it would not be to avoid failure. Indeed my training may lead you into greater failure than you think. But it would also lead you into a deeper relationship with your Father and His son, Jesus. So if you desire for me to train you into a deeper relationship with the Lord (though the vehicle of church planting), I would be glad to. But if you only desire to be trained in church planting in order to be successful, then I will not do this.”

My dream ended with him walking away. I woke up with a profound sadness over him. I felt like Jesus must have when the rich, young ruler turned away. But I woke up feeling like the dream was spot on and that this was indeed what the Lord was calling me to—to train a new generation of apostles in getting to know Him.

(From Building Effective Apostolic Communities, by Dick Scoggins.)

Sponsors: A Crucial Support System (Part 5)


By Dick Scoggins

Dennis has been one of my most important sponsors, and one of the best examples of apostolic sponsors I know. He is a businessman who decided to follow Jesus during the time I was helping establish Kingdom communities in Rhode Island. Dennis is one of the most passionate, generous leaders I have ever met, and wanted to do apostolic work; however, God had clearly anointed him as a businessman to keep other apostles “on the job.” Continue reading “Sponsors: A Crucial Support System (Part 5)”

Apostles: A New Generation of Movers and Shakers (Part 2)

By Dick Scoggins

Two Types of Apostles

Apostles tend to be the “movers and shakers” who bring passion and fervor to the spiritual atmosphere.  There are two types of apostles: those who are like Paul, and those like Peter (whom I call Pauline and Petrine apostles, respectively).

Galatians 2:8-10 describes these distinct identities, when Peter recognizes Paul’s apostolic calling to the Gentiles, and Paul recognizes Peter’s apostolic calling to the Jews. These verses reveal that Pauline apostles are called to the unreached, and Petrine apostles are called to minister to the sphere where there is an exiting expression of church. Continue reading “Apostles: A New Generation of Movers and Shakers (Part 2)”

Apostles: A New Generation of Movers and Shakers (Part 1)

By Dick Scoggins

The Apostolic Calling

My early thinking on apostleship was shaped by Watchman Nee, a well-known Chinese theologian, who made a distinction between “the Church” and “the Work” – two distinct entities in the Kingdom of God with different spheres of influence. “The Church” is the larger body of believers who are called to bring the Gospel to the family, friends and neighbors around them. “The Work” is the apostolic work – the small bands of pioneers willing to take the Kingdom of God to where the Church does not yet exist whether geographically or with hidden people groups inside places where traditional churches exist, but not in forms suitable for these other culture/people groups. The apostolic community’s goal is to establish new forms of Church that will fit these people groups and reproduce locally expanding the Kingdom to every segment of society. Continue reading “Apostles: A New Generation of Movers and Shakers (Part 1)”

The Loneliness of Apostolic Calling

By Dick Scoggins

A scribe came to Jesus and asked if he could follow him. Jesus replied, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Luke 9:58).  Another aspiring apostle approached him and asked if he could defer his calling to live with his aging father (likely parents) until they died. Jesus seems to reply in a callous fashion, “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead” (Matt. 8:22).

Just reading through these passages, it seems like Jesus is being harsh and de-motivating people from following him. But these two stories demonstrate the particular challenges of the journey as one of Jesus’ apostles. Continue reading “The Loneliness of Apostolic Calling”

The Guild: Learning by Doing (part 1)

By Dick Scoggins

Our Early Years

Over 25 years ago, Jim Frost and I began a training program to equip a new generation of innovative church planters (whom I like to call apostles). Neither Jim nor I had attended Bible school or seminary, having both come to faith in mature adulthood.  Rather, we learned about Jesus and His Kingdom by reading the Word and trying to follow Him while being coached by more experienced “followers of the Way.” Continue reading “The Guild: Learning by Doing (part 1)”

Learning Environments for Apostolic Apprentices [Part 4]

This is the fourth and final part of our series Learning Environments for Apostolic Apprentices. At the end of this post there is a link to download the entire paper containing all four parts.

3. Living within the context of the germinating new community

The third environment we have found important is for the apostle to live in the context of the community in which they are trying to be incarnational.  The apostle Paul talks about “becoming all things to all men that by all means he might reach some”. This involved him leaving his beloved Jewish community (a Pharisee community at that) and actually learning to live as a Gentile culturally. Sometimes it is difficult to know where culture ends and Kingdom morality begins.  The only way to find out is to get immersed in the context of the community with the help of older apostles who have struggled through similar issues. Often this is quite an emotional journey, as it must have been for Peter visiting Cornelius’ house in Acts 10. Continue reading “Learning Environments for Apostolic Apprentices [Part 4]”

Communities of the Kingdom of God [Part 3]

(If you missed them, click to read Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, “Communities of the Kingdom of God.”)

A Strong Kingdom Is Made of Many Different Types of Communities

But the point is that there are likely a myriad of different types of communities which serve to promote and strengthen the Kingdom of God. Each community needs to be built to suit and serve the ones who are living out their lives in that Kingdom community and against the backdrop of the particular darkness they face. Continue reading “Communities of the Kingdom of God [Part 3]”