Matt Carter is pastor and planter of The Austin Stone Community Church in Texas, and we are grateful to have him in the Acts 29 Network. He speaks passionately on the church’s mission and recently taught at the Dallas boot camp on The Church Planter’s Two Callings.
The following is adapted and excerpted from Matt’s message.
You and your wife have two callings on your life as a planting couple. The primary calling on your life is to Jesus Christ. The primary calling on your life is to be his, to belong to him, to be his child. You also have a secondary calling on your life, and that is what you do for Jesus.
Paul talks about these two callings, the primary and secondary, in Philippians chapter three. Paul makes the point that if anyone can put confidence in the things that they’ve done in their life, he is one who could do that. And he goes on to give a list of his accomplishments in life.
But look forward to Philippians 3:7-8: he says “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”
Paul is saying there is something more important in your life than serving Jesus.
There’s something more important in your life than planting a church for Jesus. That ‘something’ is Jesus himself.
This is such a key verse for your ministry! For your preaching! For your marriage! For your church plant! Why does this have to be key, and rest on you, and hit you, and be a part of your DNA? Because:
The gospel will never be effective or powerful through your life until the gospel is first effective and powerful in your life.
Let’s make this personal – and see where you’re at with this. Let me ask you a question, and be honest:
What do you really want more?
Maybe the way to find out the answer to that question can be found by asking another question.
What do you pray for more often? Do you pray that God would be powerful through your preaching? Through your church? Through your leadership? Or do you pray more often “God, be powerful in me!”
The reason I think that is so critical is very biblical. If you want a very haunting example and warning, read Revelation 2. Jesus speaks to the church of Ephesus. He starts by listing off all the good things the church does, and applauds their deeds, toil, perseverance and good doctrine. But then Jesus looks at this church and says “but there’s a problem: I’m not the center of your affections anymore. You’re doing all this stuff for me, but I’m not the heartbeat of you. You’ve lost your love for me.”
Then what does he say?
It should scare you. Jesus says, “if you don’t repent and come back to me, I’m going to remove your lampstand from its place.”
I don’t know about you, but if Jesus isn’t a part of or blessing my church or showing up, I’d rather be a fireman or drive a truck. I’d rather do anything than pastor a church where Jesus isn’t showing up. “I count all things to be loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ.”