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People Love Winners

I remember when I was a kid sitting at the edge of my grandfather's bed watching a 13 inch television with rabbit ears. The picture flickering every once in a while or adjusting if one of us walked near the antenna. As we sat on the edge of the bed I recall my grandfather to my right and my uncle behind me. In the room that day was my uncle who was an avid 49ers fan. They had already won two Super Bowls and his fondness for Joe Montana was coming through as he screemed at the television screen.

My grandfather was relatively indifferent to the game but he also favored the 49ers based on past performance.

I on the other hand was a 10year old who was just learning the professional version of the game I played for the "Dundalk-Eastfield Packers". Joe Montana to me at this time was just another quarterback. What I knew was the guy named "Boomer" was from the University of Maryland and I thought the "Icky Woods Shuffle" was a pretty sweet celebration!

The game was tied at the half and the second half was back and forth. I was learning the art of talking trash with my uncle and grand father as the game played out.

Go back with me to the 13 inch TV and see what happened in the final moments of that game.

"With the score 13-13, Cincinnati took a 16-13 lead on Jim Breech's 40-yard field goal with 3:20 remaining. It was Breech's third field goal of the day, following earlier successes from 34 and 43 yards.

The 49ers started their winning drive at their 8-yard line. Over the next 11 plays, San Francisco covered 92 yards with the decisive score coming on a 10-yard pass from quarterback Joe Montana to wide receiver John Taylor with 34 seconds remaining."

I was crushed. But I was also intrigued. I just watched a team I liked for superficial reasons get beat by a team that (my family assured me) was a dynasty. People love winners.

Over the next few years I supported both the Bengals and the 49ers but my loyalties (along with winning) pulled me toward the 49ers for most of my life. It wasn't until the end of the Steve Young era and the rebirth of football in Baltimore via the Ravens did I ever again have a 'favorite' team.

What's with all the nostalgia?

It's simple. People love winners.

In church planting you have to win early and win often. This goes back to the importance of what happens in the "off season" and in "training camp" as well as what happens "in practice during the week". My friend John used to give me a quote he picked up from Matt Willmington [likely the smartest leader whom you don't know].

Matt's wisdom: "Plan now, Pastor later."
Church planters above all ministry leaders must take heed to this mantra.

When you take the time to plan and prepare, your chances of winning when the game is on the line are much higher. The 49ers were able to score with :34 on the clock because of the preperation.

Church planters don't start off frustrated, hurt, bitter or discouraged. For many of them, failure is not something they are used to. The people who tend to do well at chruch planting are often like myself, people who are used to winning despite the obstacles in front of them. (By the way, if you can't point to significant victories in the face of adversity, don't get into church planting.)

What I've discovered however is that if you do not win and win often on the front end of the church plant it will be very difficult to win in the middle of your season.

There aren't many 0-6 teams who lift up the trophy and go to Disney World at the end of the season. I am not advocating churches shutting down after the first few months or even year but what I am advocating is that we do whatever it takes to prepare in advance.

Todd Wilson of (Passion for Planting / NewChurches.com / NewLife4me.com ) affirms this principle in this free downloadable resource. He references lessons learned from Noah.

Noah and the Ark – “Make a boat from resinous wood and seal it with tar, inside and out. Then construct decks and stalls throughout its interior. Make it 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. Construct an opening all the way around the boat, 18 inches below the roof. Then put three decks inside the boat—bottom, middle, and upper—and put a door in the side.

Gen 6:14-16

Think about the planning process that went into building the ark. Think about the time he spent making sure there weren't leaks. He didn't just tie a few pieces of bark together and say "If its God's will, he'll make it float!"

I've seen a funny (sad) trend regarding denominational/planting organizations. We want the organic 'movement' of underground China with the stability of Noah's Ark and the buzz at launch of the iphone. To do all of this we want our best and brightest to work two jobs, stress over making ends meet and go from being quality "specialists" to frustrated "generalists".

At any rate I'm confident that a vision birthed of God in the heart of a quality team which is properly funded and properly planned to reach a particular audience is what works. The term "properly" there is going to depend on the desired outcomes. Starting with the end in mind will allow the church to have realistic expectations going into their first year or two. If expectations are being met the congregation will experience a winning team. If expectations aren't being met (regarless of what they are) the team will feel like they are losing. Discouragement is the result of failed expectations. Sometimes the expectations are realistic and they don't get met which is discouraging. More often than not however the expectations aren't realistic and so discouragement sets in unnecessarially.

In our case we've had people on our team who started off with great attitudes and optomism but got crushed under the weight of failed expectations. The expectations weren't realized for various reasons but the reasons don't matter. The team saw a church get off to a healthy start and we felt like the Bengals did with just over 3 minutes on the clock. After a while however we plateued. Our quick start caught up to us.

I've been on winning and losing atheletic teams. What anyone in sports will tell you is that when you are winning morale remains high even if people aren't getting the ball or others are sitting on the bench. While these things may bother the players, the winning keeps them from getting frustrated. Let that same team however experience a few losses and the little things become big things.

I'm a huge proponent of doing whatever we can to plant churches to win and win often in the early stages because people love winners!

On that note let's not talk about my Baltimore Ravens. Unless of course they beat the Patriots tonight on Monday Night Football and ruin their run to perfection.

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Monday, December 03, 2007


At 10:14 AM, Blogger Nicolette said...

Leave no doubt that I have read this post several times. I believe that this entries' content is very true. However, it is somewhat incomplete. I say this because our church did do the pre-planning. We met as a small group for a year and a half. We were part of a campus ministry prior to that. We did three months of leadership training prior to going public. It isn't the lack of planning or volunteers that is hurting us. We have a great core of dedicated people in our church. Our problem lies within the lack of continued planning and the lack of outreach and advertisement. While this is somewhat related to money, I believe it is more closely related to over-planning/thinking. We have several grand to do outreach and advertisement, but we are not using it. It is just sitting in our bank account because we are overthinking what we are going to do with the money. The leadership does not want to waste it, so it just sits there. The problem with not using the money is that we are not growing.
The other issue we have is that we are not using our leadership. We are not using the talents and skills of those around us and they are growing restless (myself included). The reason the people are not used is because the leadership does not think we are ready for the ideas and skills we have to offer. As a result, good leaders leave. Any insight?


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