How to Hear God In Your Church Plant (with Andy Martin)

Andy Martin is an experienced church planter and leader, and he heads up the world mission stream of Broadcast. In this Broadcast, Andy talks to church planters about the place of the prophetic, and how we can hear the voice of God in our church plants.


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Why the Prophetic Matters

  • We worship a God who speaks - he spoke creation into being, he sent prophets, he inspired a book and he sent his Son.
  • God still speaks today.
  • God will not add to the word he has spoken, but he will remind of what he has already said and bring us fresh understanding and a 'nowness' to the word.
  • We should be expecting God to speak to us individually and as churches and we should listen to him.

The Prophetic in Church Planting

  • Churches are built on foundations of apostles and prophets.
  • The prophetic can bring faith to the church planting team
  • Church planting can be tough. It can sometimes take a while to see meetings launched, people saved and leaders raised up. It takes perseverance - but if we know what God has said to us this helps us know what to pray. 
  • For example, in Haggai they are given a word to rebuild the temple - they are living with a prophetic vision of what the glory of the temple will be like. What energised this was the word spoken by the prophet. 
  • Some of the kinds of things God may say include directing you to a specific part of the city, giving you the long term vision for the church, directing your strategy and use of resources, giving you courage for the work and individual encouragements.

How Does Prophecy Work?

  • As we read God's word, expect him to speak. 
  • As we meet and worship on a Sunday, listen to what God may be saying to you.
  • Through the prophetic gift and people speaking specific words to you. 
  • As a church planting team, see if there is someone with the gift of prophecy who you can bring it to prophesy and pray with you.
  • Try to put yourself in the way of prophetic ministry. If you hear of meetings where there will be prophecy, go to them.
  • Focus on the church plant as you ask God to speak.
  • How do you know it's really God? - Weigh it. Does it sound like God? Does it feel like God? Does it resonate well with what he has already said? Do this in community with other leaders.
  • Prophecy is primarily revelation coming to us - something 'now' from the word that can shape our vision for the moment and/or give us somethign to do. It may come through a prophet speaking, a vision or a dream.
  • After the revelation comes the interpretation. What does the thing that God has revealed to you actually mean?
  • Finally there is the application. What are you supposed to do with the word you have been given? If there is nothing to act on then all you can do is treasure the word and wait on God to make it happen.
  • Sometimes you want to make sure a word is from God, so you can ask him to confirm it and bring the same word again through somebody else.
  • Sometimes God speaks and then it can be a long time before it is fulfilled. When you have a word and it doesn't happen for some time, ask God to confirm it and help you see whether you misheard God or whether you just need to persevere.
  • In all of it, keep your eyes on Jesus. We shouldn't let any prophetic word become bigger in our minds than following Jesus is.
  • Stay expectant that God will speak - and build prophecy into the church that you are planting.

Q&A

1. How do you teach the first few people in your church how to prophesy?
  • If we are hearing God, we should have some stories to tell about how God spoke to us about the vision, and the planting of the church, etc. As you tell these stories, people will hear that God speaks!
  • Teach people from the Bible through preaching, small groups etc. that God still speaks.
  • Help them understand that it's nothing to do with their spiritual maturity but that God is a Father who loves to speak to his children.
  • Practically, you could get prophetic people to come in and model it. 
  • You could sometimes ask God to speak to you through a selection of objects - and then together try to discern which of those words are from God.
  • Sometimes we can get more spiritual than the Holy Spirit! God can speak very practically and straightforwardly to us.
2. How do you convince prophetic people to dial back the prophetic gift a bit so they don't dominate?
  • This does need to happen sometimes.
  • In Corinthians, Paul says that the spirit of a prophet is subject to the prophet - which means that they can choose to be quiet if they want.
  • If someone is prophesying too much, it helps to have a good relationship with them - and then you can explain to them that they are saying too much. 
  • Teach that we don't need to share everything that God speaks to us. When you are given a lot of prophetic things, ask God what he would have you share that is for now.
  • It is helpful to realise that if you don't get a good moment to share, God is still capable of communicating what he wants to say to his people.
  • Sometimes you can say 'let's have a time now where we don't prophesy, but we simply pray or simply worship'.
3. If you have newcomers with you, is there a particular way you explain the prophetic? 
  • Yes - we should still use the gifts if outsiders are with us, but we should do so in a sensitive way.
  • In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul says the gifts when used correctly will be very helpful to outsiders.
  • Make an effort to keep your preaching accessible to everyone - keep your points short and punchy.
4. Have you ever had any conflicting prophecies? If so, how do you deal with them?
  • It comes back to the parts of prophecy - revelation, interpretation and application. Try to get to the heart of the prophecies to see whether there is a real conflict between them or the conflict is just in the way people bring them.
  • Also there may be times where there are different words that lead us to respond in different ways.
  • Sometimes we need to say in a meeting if we think a word isn't from God, but let's do this in a gentle way.
  • People aren't usually offended - but sometimes there are some who are not rooted in any church who turn up only to prophesy and they may take offence.
5. What are some of the most common errors that people make when it comes to prophecy?
  • We shouldn't think in terms of mistakes - we are all children who are learning to do this together.
  • When we step out for the first time and try something, even if it doesn't go right we shouldn't think of it in terms of a mistake. 
  • We are trying to help people grow more than we are correcting mistakes.
  • Sometimes we can feel the burden so much that we restate the same thing several times in several ways. We sometimes try to do the Holy Spirit's work for him!
  • Another thing is bringing things in a heavy way.
  • Sometimes people over-qualify things.
6. In a church plant how can we make sure there is a shared prophetic vision rather than just a group of individuals?
  • It takes time.
  • It is about the main leader leading well, including people but still bringing clear vision. 
  • Keeping eating together and build on the relationship together.
  • It is hearts joined together that brings perseverance rather than individual prophetic words.
7. Can we take the next step in a church plant without a prophetic word?
  • Yes.
  • We already have the revelation of Scripture. We need to be getting on and doing what it says.
  • Often when this has a cost to it, having some words can help bring faith - but a desire to obey Jesus is enough.
8. What would be your quick word of encouragement to a church planter?
  • Treasure the things that God has said to you to get to this point - because they will be the things that sustain you.

Recommended Resources

To accompany this hangout, we would recommend the following book: 

Note - If you buy a book using the affiliate link above, Broadcast will receive a commission from Amazon to help more churches get planted, at no additional cost to you.