What to Do When Opportunity Knocks

“But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Cor. 16:8–9).

Bloom Where You’re Planted

When writing to the Corinthian churches, the Apostle Paul provided insight regarding his mission work. Paul let the church know that he would come soon, but that God had “opened effective doors” of ministry for him—and so, he was going to remain in Ephesus for as long as the door remained open.

While our hearts desire to be frutiful in ministry, we shouldn’t prescribe this text as a justification for leaving “unfrutiful” areas—especially if God has called us to a people group or location. Follow God at all costs. But, Paul’s wisdom does demonstrate that when opportunity knocks, we’re to answer and to be hospitable.

The old saying, “bloom where you’re planted” sticks out. Paul desired to stay in Ephesus while the ground was fertile. While God was continuing to do mighty works—Paul wanted to keep up with His leading. It would behoove those in ministry, especially church planters and missionaries, to see Paul’s witness as a season for continual plowing and reaping.

Like a farmer during sowing and harvesting seasons—life can become overwhleming and busy, but there will be no harvesting without sowing. Whenever God grants us the ability to be effective gospel witnesses, we ought to take every opportunity to take advantage.

Recognize Seasons of Favor

As Paul desired to remain in Ephesus, he did so because he was able to recognize that God was at work. As ministers of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18), we ought to have the spiritual receptivity to see, know, and “feel” when God is granting us a season of fruitfulness.

Recognizing seasons of favor is important. Again, to utilize an agricultural analogy, a farmer must acknowledge the seasons for planting and the seasons for harvesting. I know that in my life, there are obvious and evident periods of God’s overflowing favor—it is during these times that I want to be especially open to receiving the divine appointments that are set before me.

I know that I never want to miss a great opportunity. It seems that life is a finely spun web of intricate relationships. For the most part, I am where I am because of God’s divine appointments, open doors, and taking advantage of those seasons of favor. Whether I can “shoehorn” one more meeting in my schedule or not, I try to accommodate the appointments that God brings to me—especially those unannounced marketplace ones.

Big Opportunities will face Big Opponents

Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the four hundred pound gorilla at the end of Paul’s statement—those big opportunities caused some big opponents to appear. It is inevitable that when seasons of favor occur that you can (and should) expect some spiritual warfare.

Whenever the Lord begins to bless you and grant you favor, especially in gospel ministry that breaks through into the darkness, you can rest assured that evil will not cease to hinder the mission. As Peter stated, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). When big opportunities arise, so does your adversary.

But, remember that you are never alone and never without the presence of God. The Great Commission is one big audacious “God-sandwich” (Matt. 28:18–20). The commission of Christ begins with Christ’s universal authority over all things, granted to us, and ends with Christ always being with us—the middle part is the commission work.

Reminding ourselves that wherever the Lord is sending, He has ultimate authority and is always with us. God will never leave you, nor forsake you.

How Church Planting Pregnant Creates a Movement

The term “planting pregnant” may sound a little weird, but the premise is solid. It’s starting a new church while, at the same time, training potential church planters within your starting church team to plant. 

Hence, the beginning church expects to birth another church—soon.

If the main goal of church planting is to gather and develop reproducible disciple-makers for the mission of God, then a key factor is the aspect of reproducibility. 

Many times, I hear church planters with grandiose visions and mission statements. Yet, rarely do I hear of planters that desire to infuse a reproducible DNA from the beginning. 

When I read the descriptions in the book of Acts of Paul’s church planting journeys, I tend to see him working with teams (Acts 13:1, 13; 14:21–28; 20:4). Seldomly do I read of Paul working as a Lone Ranger or “parachuting” (Acts 17:16–21). I also understand that the book of Acts is descriptive and not prescriptive—however—I can glean some good applicational insight.

A few months ago, the Lord laid a burden on my heart to start a church planting movement in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. However, the Lord has also blessed me with a great many supporters and partners to help facilitate this movement.

One of the ways that Story Church will be planting pregnant is to start with the intentional ethos of reproducibility. This means that I will plant with guys that are apprenticing to plant and will eventually start a new church within the next few years—not a campus church—but an autonomous body of reproducible disciple-makers. These men will be able to watch, learn, and live out what it looks like and what it takes to plant a church. 

While I am chronologically recording every move I make, I realize that every plant is unique and must be adaptable to culture. However, the principles and procedures for initial start-up, systems placement, and community exegesis will be eerily similar. 

There is no cookie cutter approach to church planting, but by beginning to plant with the “pregnant” mindset and groundwork, the DNA of the mother church plant takes on an identity of reproducibility. And what that means is Story Church is not about building an empire but launching a multiplicative gospel movement. 

For me, church planting pregnant is vital. However, I can plant pregnant because this is not my first time around and because I have put the time in to watch, learn, train, and be a part of other plant/planters. So, as I am planting Story Church, I will be apprenticing other potential planting candidates.

I realize that planting pregnant may not be the norm and I praise God for any and every church planter, but it is a means to birthing a gospel movement. 

Please pray for Story Church. If you’d like to partner with us, feel free to connect with me matt@storychurch.live or become a monthly supporter at www.storychurch.live

The Apostle Paul and the Military

It’s no secret that my desire is to reach, equip, and care for service men and women, their families, and the communities that support them by living out God’s story of life, freedom, and community. Actually, that’s the specific vision of Story Church—the beginning of a church planting movement near military installations. 

As my family and I have prayed through and been called to our specific task, I think about a Navy SEAL’s saying: SEALs don’t overcome a situation by rising to it, but by falling back on their training. 

Over the years, I’ve been blessed to serve as a trainer, catalyst, and director of church planting. As well, I’ve been able to study the early church and the journeys of Paul within my doctoral work. So, as my family and I engage on our mission to reach and care for military communities by living out God’s story, I cannot help but to “fall back” on all of my training.

Much of that training is steeped in understanding biblical church planting strategies. Lately, I’ve been focusing on Paul’s church planting journeying—where he went, how he got there, and what he did when he was there.

To state that the Apostle Paul had connections and contact with the Roman military is an understatement. I believe Ephesians 6 and the armor of God is but one good example. 

But, whether Paul, like many Roman citizens of the first century, used the Roman military roads for easier travel, safety, or convenience, or for the purposes of the spreading of the gospel within the military could be somewhat subjective.

However, we do know that Paul chose towns, villages, and cities that had a great Roman military presence. For instance, looking at Paul’s escape from Iconium to Lystra, the notable book of Acts scholar John Polhill observed that the small Roman colony of Lystra was connected to Pisidian Antioch by a Roman military road, “located in the hill country surrounded by mountains” employed and equipped “as a Roman military post.”[1]

Reaching the military of any country is significant in the way that they are deployed throughout other countries—it resembles diapsora mission. The military as mission way of life takes on a two-fold meaning— (1) dutifully serving the mission of the country, and (2) living out God’s missional story of life, redemption, and restoration. 

Eckhard Schnabel validates how Paul broadly reached the Roman military, “In Caesarea Paul had contact with Roman Soldiers, centurions and tribunes (Acts 21:32, 37)”[2]We’ve also read the words of Paul, written to the Philippian church regarding how he witnessed and proclaimed the gospel to whole “Praetorian guard.” (Phil. 1:13). Regardless of arrest, imprisonment, or journey, Paul had much engagement with the Roman military.

Story Church’s vision is not only to care for service men and women, their families, and the communities that support them, but to see true gospel love, transformation power, enrichment, restoration, and reproducible disciple-making sending.

If you’d like to partner, support, or donate to Story Church‘s mission or contact me for more information, email matt@storychurch.live



[1]John B. Polhill, Acts, vol. 26, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 312.

[2]Schnabel, Early Christian Mission,1265