Aug 23, 2006

What A Pastor (And Church Planters) Need

One of the most fun days in my week are Thursday’s—that is the day my assistant schedules a lunch with a church planter or a pastor for me…and I love hanging out with these guys.  They have so much energy and fire—and that stuff is contagious!  AND—I learn from them—the day we think we can’t learn from someone is the day we just need to STOP!

One of the questions that is often asked of me by church planters is, “Perry—what do I need to start a church?”  And then the list goes something like this…“Do I need a lot of money in the bank?”  Nope—we had a few hundred dollars and God seemed to be able to use that…just like the fish & chips miracle.

“Well—do I need a seminary education?”  Nope—not that seminary is a BAD thing…but I believe it is a calling and not a biblical mandate—besides, 80% of seminary graduates QUIT the ministry within five years!

“Well—do I need a building?”  Nope—we met for over six years in portable facilities…and while those years were challenging—they were awesome.

“Well—do I need a kick butt sound system?”  Uh—yeah—eventually—but I still say this is NOT the most important thing—neither are fancy screens and cool multi-media presentations.

“Well then WHAT is needed?”  Simple—Vision and Courage...if you don’t have those two things you will fail in the ministry—you show me a successful ministry across the nation—church or parachurch, contemporary or traditional…and I will show you someone at the core who has Vision and Courage.

Let me hit vision first—you have GOT to have vision.  One of the things about myself AND the other freakishly passionate pastors and leaders I know is that they EAT, SLEEP, and BREATHE vision.  I can’t have a 10 minute conversation with someone and NOT talk about the church and where I believe we are headed.  I love talking about football—basketball—and other things—but for some reason all conversations seem to come back to the church—this is vision.

And…the vision HAS to be written down…and it can’t be something stupid.  I remember once asking a pastor what his vision was and his reply to me went like this, “I just don’t want to be traditional.”  That’s not vision—that’s bitterness—that’s rebellion…it’s not vision.

A vision is something that guides you—consumes you—and literally makes your decisions for you.  A solid vision helps us to make good decisions around here because, if something doesn’t fit into the vision, we simply do not do it.

NOW—keep this in mind…if you have vision…and you have passion for that vision…then from time to time vision vandals will arrive at your church and try to sidetrack the vision—this is where you need courage.

It pains me when I see a pastor who feels that they have a vision from God…but they are afraid to put their hands to the plow & see that vision come to reality because they might upset a big giver in the church.  If God has given you a vision…and you truly believe the things the Bible says about Him—like He in COMPLETE CONTROL then go for it!!!

It takes courage to follow your vision!  And, as a church planter…you will be tested EARLY and OFTEN.  One of the things that no one told me when I planted NewSpring was that when you plant a church you have a tendency to attract every freak within a 15 mile radius who has an idea of HOW your church should be ran…and they are usually very loud!

It took courage for me to look them in the eyes then and say, “Maybe this isn’t the church for you.”  And we still do that from time to time today…it’s not that we are trying to be mean…but I am passionate for the vision of this church—passionate about doing what God has called us to do…and have never been willing to let anyone sidetrack us…and I never will.

AND please understand this—when you have courage to defend the vision…you will be misunderstood.  You will be called cocky, arrogant, and people will say that you are unwilling to accept criticism.  Keep this in mind—99% of the time these comments are made from “steeple people” who came from another church where the pastor was a pathetic wus that performed for a paycheck (sort of like a prostitute) and was easily pushed around!  THOSE are the people who whine about vision…and it’s best to let them leave!!!  It’s not that they don’t matter to the kingdom—it’s just that they do not need to be in your church.

Church planters—I know this causes you to freak out a little when people leave, you don’t want to see this.  I hear so many pastors say, “We need to close the back door.”  Allow me to explain something here…and this will get graphic—but I think you will understand…

I once heard a pastor say that the back door never needs to be closed.  In Scripture the church is called the “BODY” of Christ.  Well—the body has a “back door” and if that door is closed then the body can get septic.  The body needs a way to pass what does not belong into it out of it…and so does the church.  Once again—it’s not that the people leaving are bad people—they are just not a good fit for your church.  (I can just read the e-mails now!!!  Yes I meant that—yes it was graphic—no, I will not consider taking it down!)

Church planters—always listen to advice—always bounce ideas off of people—always be willing to those who you know love Jesus, love you, and love the church.  BUT when it comes to vision…be solid.  I ask a lot of questions about a lot of issues around here at NewSpring…I never make a decision without seeking godly advice from people inside and outside the church—but when it comes to vision the direction has been set…and we will follow what God has called us to follow and do what He has called us to do—no matter what!!!

Vision and courage—that’s a MUST!!!  Now GO FOR IT!

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