5 Lessons Learned in Church Planting

We are five years into the church plant known as Grace Community Church. God has overwhelmed us continually with what He has done and continues to do among us. This is my second church plant. The first one continues to do well today. I feel humbled and blessed to be a part of such healthy environments He is using to reach people with the Good News of Jesus Christ.

I have learned a few things in the process. Some of these were new insights and some of were things I had confirmed, but all are things I would suggest other church planters consider.

Here are 5 lessons I’ve learned in church planting:

Don’t shy away from leaders, even though they are churched…you’ll need them – When we started, if a person showed up who regularly attended another local church, we shied away from them. We weren’t rude to them, but we really didn’t pursue them as we did other visitors, simply out of respect of other churches. What I have learned, however, is that many times this was standing in the way of something God was doing in the person’s life. At the same time, we were suffering from a leadership void not having enough people ready to lead in a church setting.

Don’t be afraid to talk about money…you’ll need it - I know this is a problem for many church planters, because many of the people we are reaching are repelled by money talks. They wrongly feel that’s all churches talk about and so they push back anytime money is mentioned. I know Jesus talked much about money (some say more than any other subject), but in an attempt to be attractional to unchurched people, church plants often avoid any money talk whatsoever. What I’ve learned is that it takes money to minister to people. Additionally, part of the spiritual growth process of a person is how they view and handle money and one of my roles is to help them mature in this area. I can’t do that unless we talk about it.

Surround yourself with some encouragers…some days they’ll keep you going - The work of church planting by itself is tough and places a strain on the planter and his or her family, but church planting also has plenty of naysayers. The church world can be very competitive and church planters are not always the most popular pastors among the established church world. I’ve learned I need enough people around me so that on the days when I’m down they can encourage me to pick my head up and keep moving forward.

Know what to control and what to let go of…you’ll be stretched if you don’t - There are some things to hold on to very tightly, such as vision or senior leadership positions, but I’ve learned to let go of things such as how the vision gets implemented or what color we use for rugs in the preschool area. (I never would have stressed about that last one…but you get the idea.) The more I can allow others to do and take leadership of, the greater success we will have in reaching our overall vision as a church.

Embrace hurting people…as much as it hurts - We have extended so much grace to people…and we have been burned a few times. I have been personally hurt by people to whom I invested so much love and support, but I also know God rewards this sacrifice. Some of the best leaders we have were hurting, broken people when they arrived. God still does miracles with people when we extend His grace and truth.

I am not sure these are unique experiences to church plants, but since that is the context in which I live I decided to frame them that way. We are still learning things every day. My personal hope is that others will learn from our experiences.

Which of these do you most need reminding of today? I’d love to hear from some fellow church planters or pastors who have other things you have learned in the process.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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13 thoughts on “5 Lessons Learned in Church Planting

  1. My wife and I are church planters in Provo, Utah, a city with a population that is 98% LDS. Finding some encouraging people has made all the difference to us. Also, though I've kind of ignored the money issue over the past year, I've been bolder in speaking about it lately. In fact, at our Christmas service on December 16 we'll be talking up our first special offering. Thanks for the article!

  2. Thanks for some great advise! I am 15 months from launching a new work in the San Antonio area. The 1st point about turning away leaders from another church got my attention and I needed to read. Thanks!

  3. Great article and just what I needed to read. I begin classes at Southwestern Seminary in January and my wife and I are called to church planting.

    To go along with your control point today my ministry mentor said to me that one of the problems he sees among many people especially in seminary these days is they take classes to strengthen their weaknesses. He counseled me to improve on my strengths and give the rest to the Lord.

    • Thanks Reagan. I love church planters…and I love the ministry advice your mentor gave you. If I can ever help, let me know.

  4. Thanks for the post, Ron. I appreciate your insight and these are all good reminders as well. We're in our fifth month of weekly services here in the metro Philadelphia area and I've found that all of your suggestions relate to the one tip "know what to control and what to let go of." Its all too easy to focus on the stuff you can't change and forget about the calling we have to do and follow in specific areas of leadership and obedience.

    Keep up the writing and good work.

    Sincerely in Christ,

    Phil Henry

    • Thanks Phil. I love Philadelphia! I spent two years coming to the city frequently while completing a master's degree at Eastern. My classes were in center city and I learned to love my time there. Hoping to get back there soon! Keep me posted.