Satan will attack church plants at their root, Lawless tells conferees

Communications Staff — May 29, 2008

Chuck Lawless, dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism at Southern, reminded attendees of the Missional Church Planting conference at Sojourn Community Church that spiritual warfare is a central component of all Gospel ministry, including church planting.

‘Every time we share the Gospel with a lost person, we have engaged in war,’ he said. ‘And we are on the offensive, marching against hell with the Gospel. But if we do not wear the armor of God as we do this, the enemy will shut us down before we ever get started.’

Lawless said Paul makes it clear that the enemy of all believers, particularly those actively engaged in Gospel ministry, is a spiritual one: the devil and his forces. The enemy’s goals are simple: to cause Christians to mess up, give up and/or get puffed up.

Lawless identified several danger areas peculiar to church planting through which the devil seeks to work. One danger was aloneness and a lack of accountability. Church planters often work alone when starting a church, which can leave them vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks, Lawless said.

Another danger Lawless identified was bitterness. Lawless noted that church planters often have an innate frustration with the established church, which can be one of the reasons they plant. He warned that Satan will probably try to establish a root of bitterness in church planters.

‘If we find ourselves bitter against some kind of strategy or approach to church, we need to get over it because the enemy is winning there,’ he said.

Self-dependence, often expressed in a lack of prayer, is another danger Satan uses to try and derail church planters, Lawless said.

‘I am convinced that most of us who are leaders in God’s church can do most of what we do in our own power without the church ever even noticing,’ he said. ‘In our churches, we usually start praying when we face a mountain we cannot climb. If we can climb the mountain on our own, then we don’t pray.’

Lawless said church planters must combat these, and other, tactics of the enemy by putting on the full armor of God. Putting on God’s armor does not mean praying an ‘ethereal prayer’ every morning, ‘Lord help me put on your armor,’ Lawless said. Instead, Paul is saying that if you want to win the war you have to wear the full armor of God, i.e., be characterized by those traits.

“Are you known as one who tells the Word, who proclaims the good news?” Lawless asked. “Are you a person who is living in the Word? Are you a person who has time alone with God, so that when you step into a pulpit, God is the overflow of your life You have to know the Truth, Jesus, you have to read the truth, the Word, and you have to live the truth.”

To read the live blog of Lawless’ presentation, visit news.sbts.edu/?p=712.

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