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.