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Church Planting Thoughts

I'm off this morning to an SBCV meeting with other church planters in our area. I will look forward to seeing Rob Overholt, Stuart Hodges and the rest of the gang. It's good to meet up with these guys on a somewhat regular basis.

I don't think we gain much from the meetings in the way of the actual subject matter as much as we gain encouragement and inspiration. Statistics are funny but I've heard that 80% of new church starts fail within a year or two. By fail I'm assuming they mean close down. I think we could change the term to 'fall short of realistic expectations' and take the total up to 90%. Having a group of solid leaders around every month or so helps us to feed off of one another.

If you're thinking of planting a church I'll give you a few thoughts from the top of my head:
(This could be a series of posts so I'll just give a few here and more later)

1. If you can do anything else (passion-wise), do it. This is one of the best pieces of advice I've ever heard. Ministry is different than any other 'vocation'. The ministry in many ways can be cut-throat. If you are up for anything else... go do it and help out your local church. When stuff hits the fan you will have to ask over and over "Why did I put myself and my family in this situation again? For who? For what?" and you'll pray "Lord, was I hearing you right or is this just another one of my great ideas?" You must know without a doubt that this is what you are called to do and this is the time to step out. I'm not saying you will bring in thousands of people... but if you're sure, you will have a greater outlook when things get crazy.
2. If you can help it, plant with a team. (a chord of three strands is not quickly broken) I have strong feelings about this and at some point I'll share them on this blog.
3. Learn Always and be Humble. Anyone who makes it happen has a sense of confidence but don't let it turn into arrogance. Your moral authority and your personality will matter far more than you probably realize getting into church planting. You can't use a paycheck to motivate people... your character and leadership are where it's at.
4. In every other way it costs more.
5. If you aren't a natural leader you will get eaten alive. Go and work with someone you consider to be a gifted leader so you can learn or go and plant with someone who is a gifted leader. This is one of my greatest observations... I'll talk more about it in the future.
6. Just because you can Pastor under doesn't mean you can Pastor over. In many ways when the buck stops with you, your role is far different. Do not go into the church planting thinking that because you are a great music guy or more commonly "youth guy" that you understand the role of the Lead/Senior Pastor. Many guys make the transition well but I believe it's because they weren't blind to what they were getting in to. Most of the guys I would consider 'succeeding' in their new church plants (1-3 years old) are guys who have experience in previous church planting situations.
7. New church plants are built off of the person (character, personality and drive) of the Pastor... not as much the vision (It's not PC within church circles to acknowledge this... but it's true. We aren't dealing with Spiritually mature Christians. Like it or not you have to be someone people can believe in before they will listen to what you really want them to believe in.)
8. Follow the advice in Timothy... be SLOW in the laying on of hands (Other Leaders. It stinks either way... but it's much easier to not perform a task than it will be to install the wrong leader over a task. Also at the beginning you must watch out for the 'Big Fish Syndrome'. As a church plant (not necessarially for a satallite campus) you will be a small pond. Several people who have no influence in other parts of their life will want to come and soak up the sun in your pond. Every time they roll over they create waves.... You are a fisherman... get bubba out of the pond.
9. Do a few things and do them well. Too many church planting Pastors try to do 1000 things. They've heard or read in a book that it creates more "hooks" in the water. Yes. If you have the cash and people to man those lines, the hooks are great. If you have 25 hooks and 2 people to man them, your poles get pulled under water. Don't try to be your parent church.
10. Get networked. With the stats being so poor you don't have the luxury of hanging out alone in the ministry.... get networked with people who are better than you. (they may not be better in every area... but you probably will find a handful of people to network with who are better at marketing or leadership or teaching... just find others who you can relate with and who will teach you something. Network.)

11. "Discouragement comes from failed Expectations" Have realistic expectations (to be continued...)

I have so many more thoughts and I could make this list 100 or more. Who knows.. I may. Either way these are just a few off of the top of my head and no they don't include a ton of "Spirutal" lessons (although I have a different take on that phrase as well). Ultimately church planting is a blast and I love where we are as a church and I am so excited about the next few months.... I know God is about to blow the doors off... I'm getting ready for it.

Well, I'm off to my meeting now... this post kept me later than I thought. See Ya.

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Thursday, April 28, 2005


At 11:08 AM, Blogger Gary Lamb said...

Good stuff. I always say Church planting is the extreme sport of ministry.

At 7:32 PM, Anonymous The Old Dog said...

This is excellent! Great advice!

At 10:22 PM, Blogger latinaliz said...

Great advice! I just found you surfing glad I did. I'm a church planter too! and Gary I agree this is Xtreme Ministry!


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