Tom Haines, the church planting director in my denomination’s region, uses a word a lot: relentless. It’s a quality that’s necessary in planting a church, probably because it’s a quality that’s necessary in the Christian life.
See the disciples in the book of Acts? Relentless. Opposition couldn’t hold them back. The love of Christ compelled them, so good luck to anything that stood in their way. Christianity spread throughout the Roman world as they took the good news anywhere they could despite almost every type of opposition you could imagine.
Church history is full of the same. It’s one of the reasons I love church history (and why I should study it more). Recant or be burned at the stake? No problem; I’ll take the stake. Nothing could stop those who became gripped with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Every year for the past few years we’ve driven to south Florida from our home in Toronto. That’s 1,500 miles. By the time we arrive I feel like we deserve some kind of medal for driving that far. But then I think of George Whitefield. I’ve read that Whitefield spent over two years of his life traveling on water, and he travelled up and down the eastern States without a car and without anything I’d recognize as a road. That’s just a small part of his travels. He preached some 18,000 sermons in his life. Relentless.
I’ve been reading about Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated trip to Antarctica. Almost everything that could go wrong did go wrong. After a while it becomes almost comical. He never gave up. Reflecting on Shackleton’s leadership, Dennis Perkins writes, “Never give up — there’s always another move.”
Of course, there’s always Churchill, who said, “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense.”
Relentless. Not a bad word for anyone who’s been gripped by the gospel, not to mention church planters.