5 Lessons Learned in ATL Church Planting [Part 1 of 2]

Rejoice in the Lord

This next lesson has a lot to do with my attitude and thinking. I had to learn to obey the command to rejoice in the Lord. My problem was that I was rejoicing in circumstances, but circumstances do not always turn out favorably! There will be great services that bring many visitors and there will be services that will bring no visitors! A recent example of this would be our fall festival and Christmas on the Westside. For the fall festival we had approximately 30 people visit the church. It was so exciting, there were many new faces, many people who came for the first time. Then a few weeks later we had our big Christmas service and festival that we call “Christmas on the Westside” we put out a few thousand invitations, prayed, prepared, and not one single visitor came.

What do you do when that happens? It is so easy to get down in the dumps and be upset and worried because no one came. However, the right path is to rejoice in the Lord. Be thankful for what God has done and remember that my Joy is not dependent upon whether or not people come, but it is dependent on the Lord. This is not easy to learn and I am constantly in the process of learning this. I would love to report to you that I have mastered the art of keeping my attitude in check, but I still need much work in this area.

Why is this important? Because we are commanded to rejoice in the Lord!

Philippians 4:4 – Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.

We are literally told to rejoice, to be happy, to be glad. If you use an imperative verb filter in Logos, then you’ll see that this word is highlighted. It is a command, God is telling us to rejoice! What is the basis for our rejoicing? It is the Lord! This should go without saying, but I must constantly remind myself of what I don’t rejoice in. I don’t rejoice in circumstances, accomplishments, people, response to preaching, any of these things! There is only one thing that I rejoice in, or rather one person that I rejoice in, I rejoice in the Lord.

Connected to this would be the command in 1 Thessalonians 5 to give thanks. We don’t give thanks based on circumstances or anything else, but we give thanks in all things.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 – In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

I always love to point to this verse when people talk about God’s will. Here it is: give thanks in everything. Give thanks in all things, no matter the circumstance, no matter whether things are going well or things are going poorly we give thanks in all things.

Why would I reiterate this fact over and over? My goal is that you would realize that in ministry there are lots of things that will cause you to get your focus off of the Lord. You will be tempted to allow your joy to ebb and flow with the tides of ministry. You have either already experienced this and my goal is that you would be reminded, you are in the midst of this and you need some encouragement, or you will soon face this and you need warning.

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Matt preaching from the book of John during one of our services, he is now a missionary on deputation.

Preach the Bible

(Know that it is God’s word that works in hearts, God’s word is effective, the Gospel is God’s power to salvation, I can want to preach what will bring ‘results’ but that may not leave true, lasting fruit Rom 1:16, 1 Thess 1)

In ministry there is only one resource, only one necessary textbook. When we speak we have one thing to reference and direct our dissertations, that is the Bible. All the creativity and poetic speeches in the world cannot replace the life changing power of God’s word.

What does this have to do with a lesson that I have learned in ministry? I have learned to trust that God’s word will work and do its job in the lives of the hearers. I do not have the ability to change hearts with my crafted sayings and outlines. But God’s word, spoken in the most simplistic manner can break hearts of stone.

That being said, my communication is governed and filled with God’s word. In a way this relieves some of the pressure of preaching. It is not up to me to come up with a new message or new content. The message and the content comes from God’s word, I must be a faithful messenger to go and speak God’s word. My part is to consistently and clearly communicate the truth of God’s word.

I cannot allow my cute sayings take the preeminence, I should not allow the trappings of my speech cause the message of God’s word to be less than crystal clear. It is my goal that when someone walks away from a service at Vision Baptist Church that they would be able to say I know exactly what God was saying in this passage and how to apply it to my life.

That being said, I do not always achieve this goal. I often fall short. Nonetheless, this ought to be consistently our aim.

It is so easy to fall into the trap of worrying about the next big thing, the next series. You are struggling and looking to find the magic bullet that will precipitate unbelievable growth. I have more and more realized that ministry is a lot of faithful sowing and waiting for the harvest to come in.

The seed is the word, the sword is the word, the bread is the word. We use the word!!

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Glen South currently serves as the Song Leader and Youth Leader at Vision Baptist Cobb

Equip the Saints

In our churches we simply cannot go it alone. If we are to ever go further than where we are, I must learn to train someone to do the ministry! I have found that there are people who want to get involved and help out. If there is a job to be done they most likely would be more than happy to help you. The reason being is because everyone likes to have a sense of usefulness, they want to know that what they are doing is important. People want to get in the game if you will. So what is our job? It is to equip them or prepare them to do the ministry.

This is spoken of in the book of Ephesians. Paul lays out the truth that there are gifted people given to the church who are there not necessarily to do the work of the ministry, but are given to equip or “perfect” of the saints so that they can do the work of the ministry. Too often those in ministry want to do or feel that they should do all the work. However that is simply not the case. Those in the ministry are to prepare others to do the work. Not to do all the work themselves.

This can be very difficult because we like to be in control. We think if we do the work ourselves, then it will be done more quickly. The problem is that this mentality will stunt the growth of our ministry. You and I cannot do everything! If we do not have more workers, we cannot do more ministry. Our church will reach a point where we cannot do any more because we don’t have the people to do the work. God’s people were made to take part in the ministry, our calling is to serve. Ministers are to equip the saints to do the ministry.

That means help them to know what to do, then let them do it! People may not get everything just right the first time, but pretty soon they will be doing very well. We must trust them enough to allow them to get involved and give them real responsibility and we must be patient enough to allow things to not always be first class. My mentor has taught me that Excellence is the enemy of training men. If you always expect perfection, then you will not allow new people get involved and be a part of the ministry!

We must have so much to do that there is a need for people to come get involved. If we have everything covered then there is not a need for people to be involved. If we can handle everything then why would anyone need to help? Let’s get some big dreams for what God can do in our churches, let’s attempt some great things for God and get people involved in the ministry!


There are many, many other things that I could have written about, but after taking some time to reflect on the past year or so, I have come to conclusion that these are three of some of the most important things I have learned! I hope that these have been an encouragement to you and perhaps have helped you as you are busy reaching the world with the Gospel!

Keep learning, keep growing, keep practicing in the ministry!

Thanks for reading! I hope you found these posts helpful as you serve the Lord!

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