Church planting in Europe is a 'difficult task'

AP

Texas-based megachurch pastor Matt Chandler opened the Acts 29 European Conference in Mile End, London today with a message on the motivation of church planters.

Addressing 400 leaders from 20 European nations, the 39 year old admitted that church planting in Europe was a "difficult, difficult task".

However, in a word of encouragement, the pastor proclaimed, "Our Father in heaven does not believe he has lost control of Europe at all … We are to be a people of joy, a people who walk in trust rather than despair."

Citing "the men who are celebrated on the internet", Mr Chandler said it was disheartening for European church planters when pastors with huge congregations are "exalted as the norm".

He also challenged the delegates to remember, "You are not the point.

"Your ministry is not the point and God has not pushed all his chips in on you, He has not put the kingdom in your hands as though all His hope relies in your ability to perform."

Speaking from 2 Corinthians, the President of the Acts 29 network said, "God looks at the motives of our heart", as he reminded delegates that the "hard work" of repentance and confession was not beyond church planters.

The pastor of The Village Church, whose sermons are downloaded by thousands of people across the world admitted, "I found out from a very early age that when I make much of Jesus, people make much of me."

He said a rare kind of humility would be required in order to anchor church planters.

"There'll never be a day for you or for me where I'm not in need of saying 'ah I did it again, help me Lord'".

Mr Chandler said the most compelling fuel for the church planter was to remember that God "actually likes us".

"I think we are right and good to marvel at justification but it has been my experience across the world that most of us don't have a big problem believing God forgives us but most of us struggle deeply with the idea that he actually likes us … most of us lack the fuel that comes from knowing that God delights in us."

Acts 29 was founded in 2001 by controversial Seattle-based pastor Mark Driscoll and the late Dr David Nicholas. In March 2012, two years after recovering from a malignant brain tumor Mr Chandler took over leadership of the network.

Acts 29 currently has over 500 churches in around 60 countries. In 2012 it raised £11million for its "single issue" of church planting and boasts a 97.9 per cent "planter success rate".

Mr Chandler's message was followed by The Crowded House, Sheffield's Tim Chester speaking on movement and seminars titled 'planting from scratch', 'women as church planters' and 'good music in a small church'.

The conference continues tomorrow. Matt Chandler will also speaking at the East of Scotland Gospel Partnership in Edinburgh on Saturday.

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