7 Words of Wisdom for Church Planters and Leaders

St John Church

I was meeting with a potential church planter recently and some of the words of wisdom spoken to me over the years flooded my mind. Some of these were given to me by others. Some were learned firsthand by experience.

Here are 7 words of wisdom for church planters and leaders:

Seek approval among people God sent you to minister to – Obviously, we work for the approval of God, not man, but all of us need assurance at times from other people that what we are doing matters. Church planting is unpopular among some established churches. There may be days when you feel like the “church’ community is working against you. Most likely God didn’t call you to plant so you could reach people who already love their church. He sent you to reach hurting, broken people. My guess is they are happy with your efforts. (I wrote about this principle HERE.)

Love God and you’ll love the people wherever God sends you – This happened to me when I just knew I was supposed to plant a church in New York City. I wanted to. I felt “led” to, at times. But, still, there wasn’t the peace or opportunity to do so. While walking the streets of NYC, I asked God to give me a clear heart for the people of New York if that’s where He wanted me to be. This line was one of the clearest words from God to me I’ve ever heard. If I truly love God, I will love the people and have a heart to make disciples among them, wherever I go. By the way, this seemed to take pressure off finding the exact right spot. If I “miss it”, God will still use me.

Don’t ignore churched people – When I was a new church planter, we ran from anyone who had any church affiliation. They weren’t our target. We didn’t want to offend other churches. We felt it was the “best” thing to do. In doing so, we robbed ourselves of potential leaders and kept some people from following the ministry God had laid on their heart.

Your wife may have to trust you – My wife has often known we were supposed to do something, but her heart has often been more tender when it comes to leaving the people we love. Her faith follows quickly, but her heart often lingers with the previous church. At times, I have had to ask her to trust me, and my walk with Christ, when she can’t seem to force her heart to shift. (You actually can’t force a heart to change.) Unless she has a conviction against moving forward, if she’s willing, it is often helpful if she relies on my logic more than her emotions. Her emotional commitment always follows in time.

Peace comes through obedience – I wrote about this HERE, but sometimes the complete peace in a decision doesn’t come until I’ve said “Yes Lord” to what I sense He’s calling me to do. Saying yes, before I have all the assignment or all my questions are answered, seems to open the door for God to bring peace about the move.

God stirs the nest – Deuteronomy references God and the eagle stirring its nest. I’ve been told (and read) that eagles build their nest with the roughest products they can find. Then they cover that structure with the softest, most comfortable material available. A baby eaglet never wants to leave the comfort of home, so to teach them to fly, a mother eagle stirs up the nest, uncovering the roughest part. If things become real uncomfortable where you are, it could be a God thing. He could be “stirring the nest”.

Build DNA slowly – Once DNA is set, it’s going to be very hard to change it. Secure senior leaders slowly. Add staff slowly. Add rules and structure slowly. What you repeat very many times will become tradition quickly and when you try to change it there will be resistance. Make sure it’s something you want in your DNA, before you allow it to get to that point.

Any church planters (or church leaders) out there? What would you add?

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

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6 thoughts on “7 Words of Wisdom for Church Planters and Leaders

  1. Church transfers are a tough one. I've learned to speak positively about people's prior churches and backgrounds – make sure they know we don't presume to be any better. At the end of the day, we've had to be comfortable with people making their own decisions on involvement.

    We're a 15 week old plant.

  2. PS…. Don’t Ignore Churched People… great insight on that… always heard the other perspective and was led by leadership who believed in that perspective, but you are so right because why should we assume that God does not move people whenever and however He wants. I was on a church staff for 10 years and at the end of the 14th year, God dispersed pretty much all 35 of us, one by one sent us out to plant and grow!! What if the church leadership we were sent too ignored us?? And that is just being willing to look at wisdom from the eyes of a “planter” if you are a “waterer”, because your perspective will be different. So thanks!!

    Twitter: kmac4him

  3. We all have “trophies” from past ministry; it is a “heavenly hindsight” kind of thing that helps us in our present to see the faithfulness and trustworthiness of our God. But I found there is a difference between heavenly hindsight and “nostalgia”! Nostalgia can become an idol. We have to let go of the “comfortable soul nostalgia” of past things God has used us in. He says: “I am doing a new thing, will you not know it….” I can speak about this because God called me out of everything I knew about “ministry” into “online ministry”… My first thought was: “You have got to be kidding me”, that was 3 years ago. I got caught up in the nostalgia of the past and it stopped up the God Adventure of the present. I needed a clear focus to journey through the way God was pioneering online ministry. I lost that focus when I got “nostalgic” for the things of the past. It was too much of a change, I liked face-to-face ministry and I was good at it. In my nostalgia for the past, I idolized “the way it was”, so much so that my “followship” in my now took a “crooked path”! Thankfully God makes all crooked places straight and He finishes what He starts! AWE-GOD!
    Twitter: kmac4him