Great Stuff — A Church Planting Movement

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“Oh no, they are selling yet another new church program!”

“Oh no, they are selling yet another new church program!”

If I was going to sell you on a new church planting movement it might go something like this… “Hi, I’m Rev. Steve Schave, director of church planting for the LCMS Office of National Mission. I’m a former entrepreneur, corporate executive, and adjunct professor in leadership/management/business technology. I went to the seminary where I was trained up to be a missionary. I was sent down into the Bible Belt to plant a church, in a place where there was no Lutheran presence, using a well thought through approach. And then I used that approach again, to help restart a struggling historic inner city congregation in a suffering community.

I have a process for how to plant distinctly Lutheran Churches that become enmeshed in their communities. And I have been given the charge to help to lead the LCMS in a new church planting initiative. And I’m here to tell you, that this will take a fresh look at the U.S. as a domestic mission field, and it will take a Church planting movement!”

And all God’s people said a not so resounding “Hip hip hooray! — another movement, another initiative, another toolkit, meh.” But you heard me right: we NEED a Church planting movement. Not a fan of words like movement or initiative? Does it conjure up thoughts of business-like programs that are artificial and outside the realm of the Church? Well, hear me out. I am a child of the awesome 80’s, and while things weren’t perfect, it can’t be denied that times, they are a changing.

I think we have seen what the world has to offer as the new modern family, what passes for modern romance, and we have heard our share of the new and improved modern fairly tale… we live in a world where it is anything goes, with gods of our own choosing, and the world just seems to get more embittered and jaded and hopeless, as we slide into a post-Christian era. Now I don’t know what it was like to be a parent raising a child in Ninevah, or Sodom, or Jerusalem for that matter when Jeremiah was sent, but I do think with the modern city it may actually be quite reminiscent.

I do know that when Jonah preached in the city of Nineveh, the people, and even their king, repented when they were convicted of this gaping chasm that existed between them and God that would lead to their destruction. I do know that for Sodom, judgment day came in the midst of their stubborn rebellion, and they were destroyed. And what of this Jeremiah, the one who we call the weeping prophet… more like party pooper if you ask me.

Jeremiah came to a city that just wanted to be left alone. They had a confession of faith that said don’t rock the boat, let the good times roll, and just go on with your bad self. Just look at our community, how happy we are, we have so much peace, now join in the party and strike up the band. They defined holiness on their own terms; they judged one another on their external works; and they invited others to come along.

But Jeremiah knew their mega church was made up of whitewashed tombs and the writing was on the wall. And he proceeded to rain on their parade… he wasn’t going to give them a guitar hero LORD, a cupid LORD, a Santa LORD, a life coach LORD, no idol fashioned in their politically correct image as not to upset the king. He gave them the one true God in all holiness and reverence. He called the people to repentance lest they perish, just as God called him to do. You see – Jeremiah was a planter sent by God.

nJer0114Dore_Jeremiah-235x300“Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant,” God told the weeping prophet. Jeremiah was a reformer of the church, he called the people of God to purify their confession, he was set over nations and kingdoms to do God’s will. Brothers and sisters, we need prophets who weep for our cities, who call the people to repentance, who are reformers, who tear down and destroy, who build and plant.

We need a church planting movement to bring the Gospel, for the Kingdom of God is at hand. Christ will not leave us to wallow in our sins, but instead He gave Himself upon the cross, to die and then rise again, to give us forgiveness and eternal life. And now He calls upon us to a life under the cross as well. Not for personal glory, but like Jeremiah, to suffer, to sacrifice, to die to ourselves, in love for our neighbor – regardless of the cost. God indeed brought back the exiles after they were scattered and imprisoned by the nations, all of Israel wept for days when the book of the Law was opened to them which then turned to joy in forgiveness. And God in His mercy, when we turn back, will hear our prayers to rescue us in His Son. I myself was blessed enough to be sent to a location where there was a blank slate, to plant a distinctly Lutheran church, where we could build and we could plant through witness, mercy and our life together.

And the harvest is still plentiful, and the laborers are few. We need to pray for Isaiah’s and Jeremiah’s and St. Paul’s and St. Peter’s — those who will boldly scatter the seed. As long as there are cities that are on the path to destruction, we need planters who will preach repentance and forgiveness, to tear down and build up, to destroy and to give life. Make no mistake, we need movement — where we are all going in the same direction, we need initiative — to get us there, we need a tried and true process — that is faithful to what God calls us to. The hour is unknown, but we do know this, we have never been closer to Christ’s return, and we can do more than pray… so hear the Word of the Lord: “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord,, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at


Great Stuff — A Church Planting Movement — 11 Comments

  1. I pray that these churches that are planted are liturgical and traditional. I have learned to be skeptical of LCMS “programs” but I am optimistic since Rev. Schave is a confessional man of God. On the other hand, if there are blended or COWO plants I will not be surprised – disappointed, but not surprised.

  2. I too pray that the churches planted are liturgical and traditional, but I have learned to be skeptical also. I’m aware of a church plant near Madison/Oregon, Wisconsin. From its Facebook page – ‘The Bridge Madison Religious Organization’. Strange title- no mention of Lutheran. I know the pastor is a graduate of St. Louis sem and this religious organization meets on Sunday evenings at an espresso bar in Madison. The logo for the website is ‘Follow Christ-Do Good’. Doesn’t sound liturgical and traditional at all. And isn’t the logo all LAW?

    In Christ,

  3. This is the website of the new church plant near Madison, WI – If you peruse the website you will find under the title ‘what if?’ this quote – ‘What if the church was more known for loving the community through service than having a great Sunday service?’ I don’t understand. Where is Word and Sacrament?

    In Christ,

  4. Diane, thanks for bringing that plant to attention. Who would have thought that we needed to plant more LCMS congregations in Madison, WI. I’m aware of at least five LCMS churches in that city, one of which is connected with the Bridge it seems (which is unfortunate). I’m sure there are plenty more LCMS congregations in the surrounding communities, as the Midwest is loaded with churches. I love how these “mission plants” are always in locations where they can conveniently sheep steal from liturgical congregations. Pastor Josh Miller, who is the pastor of that Bridge congregation, is also connected with the FiveTwo movement. Here is a link to something of his posted on the FiveTwo website.

  5. I am afraid I can’t get past the term “church planting,” because it always conjures up images of the kind of church Diane just described. And images of Rob Bell or Rick Warren and the like.

  6. I yearn for the days when the executive salaries of all the many mission executives were spread among a much larger number of actual missionaries who were actually planting new churches…

  7. Joshua–what a great website. Using the non-patented but very cool “Joe’s Handy Website Evaluator,” I gave this website a grade of 9.6–best ever. Sorry, Pr. Rossow, but this is one super site (Bethany is now in 2nd place). Attractive, easy to navigate, excellent sermon. Only negatives were a somewhat confusing sermon date–last Sunday’s sermon on Transfiguration was dated Jan. 26, and a very slight downgrade on Pr. Richard’s delivery. But the content was as good as anything I’ve heard. Good pictures, and the storefront location is very well done–simple, yet dignified, and reverent–it says “church” as well as any church building.

    As to the new look here, it’s a bit confusing. I can’t figure out how to respond to or quote a given post, and I don’t think the name of contributors should be linked. I certainly don’t want my name linked. Being a good and traditional Lutheran, I prefer the old website. Curmudgeon button “off.”

    By the way, if anyone is interested in “Joe’s Handy Website Evaluator,” I will forward it to Norm, if he will contact me, and he can forward it to you. As an added bonus, it includes evaluations of Bethany, Napierville and Crosspoint (no “e”) in Houston, of 5/2 fame. Act now! Operators are standing by!

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