As I mentioned in the previous post, Colby and I have been working on some articles that we hope will eventually turn into a book on the subject of church planting. You can download the first article “The Church Planter Trifecta“. Also, here are a few tidbits from some of the others.
I encourage you to consider setting more realistic goals and measuring your progress by the achievement of those goals rather than arbitrary dates in the future. Put away your calendar and concentrate on your “to do” list. When you achieve the goal it’s time to move on to the next one. Don’t get in a hurry; concentrate and build a good foundation. Unless you are an expert (which your not), quick work is sloppy work. In the formation of a new church one of the greatest injustices you can impose on your tiny congregation is to build it on a jerry-rigged foundation. There are two primary reasons that church planters get hasty:
First, they are on a financial time line. Supporters have promised financial contributions for a limited amount of time. This ticking clock applies pressure to the church planter that often leads to gimmicky church growth tactics and hasty choices. My denomination (more generous than most) gives church planters a three-year window to become self-sufficient. Every year the salary amount they offer decreases by a third until it finally disappears before your fourth birthday. Churches often will give for only a year or two.
Second, new churches experiencing explosive growth are featured in books, blogs and at popular conferences leaving the average church planter feeling inadequate. I have attended more church planting events than I can count. Nearly every time I go to one I leave feeling like I’m the worst church planter in the room. Everyone else seems to be smiling and happy as they talk about the amazing things God is doing in their ministries. Billy led the mayor of his town to Jesus, Frank’s attendance has tripled in the last year, Chris baptized 25 last Sunday, so to appear that I’m not the only loser in the room I smile and act as if I don’t want to stab my eyes out with my lanyard.
Reasons pastors often site for not planting churches:
- “We just don’t have the people to send” – What they really mean is, “We have a bunch of ministries now that are understaffed.” Instead of killing those ministries and doing what we were originally tasked to do we will have to wait until all the ministries are staffed then once that impossible task happens we will consider starting a new church. We are teaching people that serving Jesus is equal to staffing the ministries of our church.
- “We don’t have the money” – How much does it cost to share the gospel with your neighbor? How much does it cost to meet in your living room? It is only expensive because American Christians think that in order to have a legitimate church it has to be complete with a five piece worship band, an modern facility, a tricked out sound system, and theater lighting to set the mood. Church planting is about making, baptizing, and teaching disciples all of which are free.
- “Our people aren’t ready for that yet” This one is slightly legitimate. Some congregations are not ready. But it becomes priority number one to get them ready. Mission is at the center of God’s design for the church. If you have been the pastor of this congregation for very long and you are still making this excuse I have to ask what you are teaching your people? Lead the people to readiness and away from selfishness.
- “I don’t feel God leading us in that direction” – You would find more Biblical support for having a concubine than you would for supporting that statement. You don’t “feel God leading you” to obey the great commission? What do you feel him leading you to? A capital building campaign? A clothes closet? Our feeling should never trump our mandate.