The right stuff

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Turning over leaves, looking for church planters

I earned my living as an agricultural crop consultant in the early 1980s. I walked a lot of fields and made a lot of recommendations to growers. One crucial aspect of my work was identifying beneficial insects among the nasty insects in a field. Since most insects live on the underside of crop leaves, I would turn over the leaves to see what was actually happening. The beneficial bugs had the capacity to destroy the nasty bugs—if they were indeed the right ones and were appropriately mature.

It saved the grower a great deal of money if beneficial insects controlled the pest problem rather than resorting to chemical warfare. But this was risky business. If we waited too long on these good guys to develop and they didn’t have the capacity to get the job done, the bad guys were able to overrun them and create a lot of damage. So I spent hours studying the qualities of beneficial insects, looking through a magnifying glass to make sure I had it right.

I then instructed the grower about what I was seeing so that he could decide either to wait on these good bugs to do their job or wipe everything out (including the good insects) with powerful, expensive spray. Get it wrong, and a grower could lose his profit. Get it right, and the grower would win.

Okay, now this may seem like a strange analogy, but these days part of my work still involves turning over leaves, so to speak, looking for leaders who have the necessary qualities to plant churches and to get the job done right. They must have the capacity to multiply and to overcome the opposition. In fact, the entire USMB staff has embarked on a collective mission to uncover more gifted church planters.

To be able to fulfill the God-given vision of being integrally involved in planting six new Mennonite Brethren churches by the end of 2012, it’s imperative that we find the right leaders for these projects. So, our staff is using all kinds of methods within their spheres of influence to help identify those who have a passion for reaching lost people. We’re looking for leaders who can make something out of nothing, can effectively cast vision and develop teams through relationship. We’re looking for couples who support one another and who have strong marriages. We’re turning over leaves.

We know that no new church will succeed apart from a leader with a message who effectively leads a church on a mission. It’s risky business. The conditions have to be right. If not, then the good guys can end up being overrun by the enemy. It happens every day in the world of church planting.

Help us turn over the leaves in your fields of influence to see if there is someone who you believe has what it takes to be a successful church planter. To learn more about church planting, go to: http://www.usmb.org/departments/Mission-USA/page/church-planting.html.

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