Jun 22, 2007

Five Things I Would Tell A Church Planter

One of the questions that was sent in to me is, “What would you tell someone who is about to plant a church?” I have had a lot of lunches with church planters and so I have been able to sit back and think through the things I have told them…here are a few…or maybe more than a few…

#1 - Have a vision!!! AND it needs to be more than, “We went to a conference and BLANK church and want to do exactly what they are doing!” THAT IS NOT VISION—that is admiration—STOP IT!

We CAN learn from other churches—but if YOU are called to plant a church then I am quite sure that God doesn’t want you to replicate someone else’s vision—He WILL give you your own.

Oh yeah…if you don’t have a vision—DO NOT PLANT A CHURCH! I have met way too many po’d staff members who don’t like the way things are going in their church…and so their solution is to start one of their own and split the church where they are…that is not vision, it is DI-VISION, something that Scripture doesn’t speak to highly of!

#2 - Stick to your vision! I have a philosophy…and so far it has proven true. I think ever church planter will be tested in a HUGE way in regards to vision within the first year. Usually this test comes about as a result of a big giver not liking the way the church is going and threatening to pull away if things “do not straighten up.” LET THEM WALK!

“But Perry, they have a lot of money!” You may be right—BUT GOD HAS MORE!!! You can either trust Mr. Bigbucks or trust the Lord!

ALSO…you will attract a lot of church hoppers…they have been to 17 churches in the past 10 years—and all of those churches have hurt them. (Yes, it is ALWAYS the church—it’s never them—even though they are the ONLY consistent variable in the chaos!) AND—they will tell you that they are finally glad they can be a part of a church that is doing it “right;” however, you must understand that “doing is right” is “doing what they want,” and as soon as you pursue God’s vision and not theirs—they will scream them loudest!

Let them scream…let them walk—stick with your vision.

#3 - Stop trying to run off all the Christians! I did this…I think a lot of planters say this, “We don’t want any Christians around here!” STOP—think—how stupid is that statement? Again…I did this…and God has taught me a valuable lesson…

I tell planters that there are Christians in the community that you are about to plant in…and they have been praying for a church plant in that community for years. In fact, you going there to plant a church COULD be the result of their prayers. SO…DON’T SAY, “If you are a Christian then leave!” That’s stupid!

Christians bring maturity—leadership—oh yeah, they give! What you do not want are religious people—you should tell them to leave…but STOP saying, “We are not a church for Christians!”

#4 - Stop making excuses! I hear it all the time, “Perry…if we had what you had we could grow. We don’t have staff, money and a building.”

This comment makes me want to punch a planter…

In the throat! :-) (You knew it was coming!!!)

Folks—just seven years ago the total contents owned by NewSpring Church were stored in a three foot by seven foot closet! EVERYTHING!!! We had NOTHING…seriously—we didn’t even have a sound system—we borrowed it every weekend from the college we were meeting at.

We didn’t have staff…we didn’t have a building…we didn’t have lights…we didn’t have a cool children’s area…we didn’t have a lot—BUT—what we did have was God’s vision—and a belief that God was going to use this church to change this community—we had a passion for excellence and a desire to see people meet Jesus…and here we are seven years later.

Church planter—if God did it for us…He can do it for you! Do what you can with what you’ve got and dream big!!!

#5 - Meet with other pastors and ASK QUESTIONS!

OK…I am ranting now…but let me share with you my philosophy on “being mentored.” I have the privilege to meet with some mentors several times during the year…and when I do I have a pen and a notepad with a ton of questions…and the overwhelming majority of the time I ask a ton of questions and then I shut up and write!!!

Some church planters I have met with don’t have this philosophy. I literally went to lunch one time with two guys who were going to plant a church—and I DID NOT TALK the entire lunch…well, except when I ordered my food. I am serious…that’s it!!! These guys told me all about what was wrong with the church in general then told me what they were going to do and thanked me for my time—it was one of the weirdest experiences of my life.

I tell church planters, “Meet with every pastor you can—AND ASK QUESTIONS! Don’t waste their time! Don’t tell them all the things you think is wrong with their church—they don’t care!!! Ask questions!”

That’s about it for now—maybe more to come later…

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