Member Spotlight: Brian Lowe, church planter with Acts 29
By Michael Miller of Samaritan Ministries · Jan 25, 2021
Brian Lowe is using his church-planting experience to help other church planters.
He and his wife, Cheryl, planted Exodus Church in Belmont, North Carolina, in 2009 after they were assessed and guided by Acts 29, a church-planting ministry, in 2008. Brian has been pastor there ever since.
Now he and Exodus support other church plants, and Brian is Acts 29’s Southeast regional director.
Brian wanted to make sure he was qualified to plant a church.
“I wanted someone who did assessment well to look into our life and see objectively, ‘Yes, you have the competencies to do this’ or ‘No, you’re not really put together to do this.’ It wasn’t a ‘looking for man’s approval’ issue,” Brian says.
“It was really more, ‘Am I qualified to do it?’”
Two other reasons for working through Acts 29 attracted Brian: the network’s five doctrinal distinctives, especially regarding the sovereignty of God and the salvation of sinners; and being able to connect with “a group of guys” doing the same thing or going in the same direction.
The Lowes and the rest of the team that planted Exodus have learned a lot over the past 12 years.
“First, that God is more trustworthy than we knew,” Brian says. “He has taken care of us. He’s protected us. He’s provided for us. He’s just been so trustworthy. Not that I didn’t know that, but I’ve learned it in a deeper way.”
They also learned that the “Church is a beautiful broken people.”
“I tell our church all the time that we’re a mess, but we’re a beautiful mess. There’s just something beautiful and broken about the people of God that reminds us of the goodness of the Gospel.”
Finally, Brian has been reminded “over and over that it’s not about me.”
“No church gets planted simply by a lead pastor,” he says. “I’ve been reminded that Exodus Church would not be what it is without the people who call it home, serving and giving, and pouring their lives into what God has planted here.”
Church planters need to understand their limits.
“If somebody is not prepared to be reminded that they can’t do what they’re trying to accomplish, they’re going to have a really hard time planting a church,” Brian says. “We need to be broken regularly over our sin but also in the reality that we’re not sufficient for this apart from God’s grace.”
He also advises slow going.
“Church planters are some of the most impatient people that I know,” Brian says. “Some of that is because of that go-getter, entrepreneurial bent that we tend to have. A primary illustration that the Lord uses of His leaders in the Bible are shepherds and farmers, not tech startups.”
There are typical reasons a church plant fails.
“A church plant that doesn’t work out is a church that loses its focus on the Gospel, community, or mission,” Brian says. “It’s usually obvious too late. It’s a gradual, slow drift and decline.”
Church-planting should be a natural goal of churches.
“The primary missionary plan of the New Testament is the planting of local churches,” Brian says. “You can’t read the book of Acts or really the rest of the New Testament without seeing the planting of churches. Now, certainly, that flows out of the preaching of the Gospel, the making of disciples, and then those disciples get formed into a community.”
There are different ways to be involved in church planting, Brian says, such as praying and giving. “From the beginning of Exodus, we’ve been giving away at least 10 percent of our dollars to see that happen.”
Or a church could develop leaders within itself to send with members and money to plant a new church.
2020 has presented church planting with some unique struggles.
COVID-19 and the resulting economic disruption have required church plants to be “super creative” with holding services. Many church plants rent weekend space at schools, “but a lot of schools are questioning whether they want to have churches in school on the weekends,” Brian said.
Church plants typically pull in a combination of new believers and experienced believers.
“Most church plants have no interest in reshuffling the deck,” Brian says. “Most of us really do want to reach new people, we want to reach people who are far from Jesus. Having said that, we need people to disciple young believers, so we also want Christians who want to be on that mission to be part of our church.”
There are sometimes obvious signs that an area needs a church plant.
“Obviously, one is if there is no healthy church in an area,” Brian says. “Another sign would be increased population. If an area is growing, new churches are needed to keep up with that growth.”
How do you know if you’re being called to be a church planter?
“It’s important in my mind for the church planter to have some sort of external call coupled with the person’s internal call,” Brian says. “The best organizations have something in both columns where an individual who is submitted to a local church says, ‘I think this is what the Lord’s doing’ and that local church says, ‘Yes, we agree.’ And an organization like Acts 29 comes alongside that person and says, ‘Here are 11 competencies that we believe are important in the planting of churches.’
“Those competencies include spiritual vitality, theological clarity, a solid marriage and family, entrepreneurial aptitude, and leadership and development skills. Acts 29 can do a good job of assessing those competencies, but it cannot and should not create either the internal or external call. That’s got to come from the follower of Jesus and the church.”
How you can pray for Brian Lowe:
- “That I would be faithful in the roles God has called me to: follower of Jesus, faithful to my family, faithful in my ministry. “
- “That Exodus Church would declare and demonstrate the Gospel well. “
- “That Acts 29 would be a church-multiplication movement.“
Photo by Rachel Welch.