As our church ramps up to plant a church a year for the next several years, I’ve had conversations with five of my key guys about becoming church planters. Church planting is one of the most challenging sub-categories of pastoral ministry.
One of my guys confessed recently, “I’m struggling with this potential call. I don’t know if I’m willing for my son to grow up hating the church.”
His statement took me back to dozens of pastoral nightmare stories of pastors' kids (PKs) who have walked away from God and the church because they felt forgotten and forsaken by parents who loved the church more than they loved their children.
"The dawning of the 21st century finds the church of America in a moral and spiritual crisis. Decades of self-centered living and worldliness have taken their toll. Years of compromise and toothless gospel preaching have had their effect.”
Thirteen years ago in 2000, I wrote that admonition in my book The Jesus Manifesto. Ten years before that, in 1990, I sounded a similar alarm in my book How Saved Are We?:
“For years, we have preached a cheap gospel and peddled a soft Savior. We have taught salvation without self-denial and the crown without the cross. We have catered to the unsaved and compromised with the world. Now we are paying the price.”
Tragically, what I and others warned about has now run its dangerous and deceptive course.
In a team environment, where people are empowered to lead, new ideas produce change—often faster than any other way.
I’ve tried to practice this as a leader. That’s why I encourage attending conferences when possible. I pass along blogs and podcasts. We often read books together as a staff.
As long as people are allowed to dream—and the leader doesn’t have to control everything—when the team is introduced to new ideas, ideas produce energy and momentum. As team members attempt something new, change happens ... quickly.
It doesn’t have to be monumental change to create excitement. Tweaks, slight improvements, small adjustments ... those can create an atmosphere and an appetite for change on a team. There is always less resistance to major change when change is a part of the culture.
Every church needs a plan to disciple its congregation. You need a plan to take people from “come and see” to “come and die”—which is where Jesus took His disciples during His earthly ministry. For most of the history of the church, that discipleship plan was simply called a catechism. It’s not a new idea.
It doesn’t have to based on our Purpose Driven plan. But you need a plan.
Just don’t do it all at once. Take it slow. I see new church planters make the mistake all time. Often, they visit a church like Saddleback, see what God is doing and want to apply everything to their own context immediately! That’s a disaster in the making.
I’ve consulted with several churches over the years, and one thing I’ve often said to church leaders is this: What if all your dreams come true?
What if your marketing worked? What if everyone did invite someone? What if you arrived one Sunday and you had doubled in size? Could you handle it?”
I ask this because rapid growth can sometimes cripple organizations and businesses. If you don’t have a solid foundation and infrastructure in place, you could crash and burn.
I’m dealing with this currently at my church. We’ve tripled in size in less than two years.
I’m up late at night thinking about things like adding a third service and developing more leaders. I’m urging my staff to invest in leaders and build their teams. I’m praying through who I, as the Campus Pastor, can invest in and what areas in our overall church need my attention and focus. I’m thinking through systems and strategy and processes.