Jesus, Master Builder

This article originally published in GO WEST!

by Tom Lavigne

Over the past 22 years of ministry I’ve been involved in several building projects. Beginning as a pastoral intern I helped oversee a  million-dollar expansion to a church and Christian school. While church planting we were involved in acquiring 6 property lots and renovating a former tire shop into our church’s activity centre, and at our last church we helped facilitate a major debt retirement and building upgrades. Oh, yes, and in the middle of that we built a house.carpenter

While we had lots of great training at Bible College about building our faith and congregational life there as nothing about literal construction. Still, Church Planting is a lot like constructing a new building. You move into a new area, you stake out your territory, you establish a firm foundation and develop your property, and you reach out and connect into your community.

Along the way you’re faced with lots of critical choices and decisions. Where do you want to locate? How much are you prepared to invest? How long are you willing to wait? What quality of product are you expecting? Who are you willing to work with? What compromises are you willing to make? And you answer these questions knowing that your project will take longer than expected, cost more than you’re initially willing to pay, and bring you to your knees in heartache (which may be the best place to operate from).

There is a tremendous sense of awe when you see a new church come to life and when you look upon a completed building project, even when you also know all the quirks in the construction.

I’ve learned much in life from my own and others’ successes and failures. Here are a couple of thoughts from wise builders of God’s Church.

Solomon, the wise king who oversaw the construction of God’s original temple in Jerusalem, makes a tremendous observation: “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1).

The Reverend Dr. Paul Gordon Johnson, when called to ministry, sensed the Lord telling him, “Paul, don’t touch My gold and don’t touch My glory.” Life and ministry is all about God and unless He’s in it—no matter how gifted we think we are—then all our efforts are truly just vanities.

The apostle Paul put it this way: “According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation and another is building upon it. For no man can lay a foundation other that the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:10-11). Every single one of us only has an interim role in ministry. We’re not the end-all. Even if we are church planting, we’re building on the foundation of Jesus, the Gospel and the many thousands who’ve planted before us. We therefore also need to realize that each of us will be handing the baton of ministry off to the next generation—and we dare not drop the baton too soon or hang onto it too long.

We’d love to hear some of your construction stories, whether about building God’s physical temple or His spiritual house—a body of believers. Email me today at, or drop us a comment here on our blog.

Are you considering building a new plant? Or are you able to offer some of the financial, spiritual, or leadership foundations needed to buttress a young CBWC church? Watch this short video on the support networks of CBWC Church Plants, and let us know where you fit in the network.

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