I can’t speak for everyone, but I love the church planting revival happening in the church right now.
The stats don’t lie, planting a new church in a community is the best way to reach new people with the gospel. I’ve never felt called to plant a new church, but I love partnering with church planters financially and spiritually to help them get started. Over the past 10 years our church has given away $500,000 to help missionaries and church planters and that has allowed me the chance to talk to a lot of planters.
Let me give you 5 things I’ve said, and other pastors want to say to church planters over the years:
1. We believe in you
Don’t do it alone, don’t think that no one wants to help you or no one wants you to plant your church. We do. We aren’t as excited about it as you are, naturally, but that doesn’t mean we are against you. If we haven’t called you back yet, we’re not ignoring you. We want to help you. We may not be able to give money right now, but we will pray or share our facility, or let you borrow our hymnals. (ok kidding about the last one) For what it’s worth, it’s hard to encourage someone who conveys arrogance. Lead with humility. Ask my opinion every now and then. Sometimes the reason you feel no one is behind you is because you accidentally conveyed the message you don’t need anyone. Just know I’m watching and applauding you. I need to remember to tell you more often.
2. We’re a little bit jealous of you
When we leave meetings with people who want to fight over petty things, we always think of what it would be like to just plant our own church and not have to deal with dumb problems. We know you have you will have your own challenges, but the chances are, you probably won’t be slowed down by arguments about Sunday School, paint color, and whether you have to wear a tie or not. We either don’t have the guts or don’t feel called to plant a church, but every time we hear you talk about your vision there is a little part of us that wished we could do what you are doing.
3. Don’t say there’s no one in the community doing what you’re trying to do
Depending on where you are planting, there are probably a few hundred other churches. Someone is doing similar things to what you want to try. We understand you have vision and are excited about it, but when you say those things it makes you sound like you have some kind of revelation that no one has. At the end of the day you bring people together, worship, teach, pray, make relationships, and serve the community. God set it up that way. You are going to do great things, but start your church based on what you are for, not what you are against. When you say, “There are no churches reaching unchurched people,” or “No churches in the area are reaching the community” you sound arrogant. Whether you realize it or not you’re insulting pastors who have spent their lives sowing seeds in the community. Instead try this, “God is doing incredible things in ______ and we want to get in on it.”
4. If you need some of our people to help you launch we just want you to talk to us first
It takes a solid foundation of faithful serving, attending, tithing people to get a church off the ground. The irony is it seems your starting your church to reach the unchurched people in the community you say no one else is reaching, by marketing and recruiting church members from other churches. I’m sure I’m a little sensitive about it, but you will experience the pain of someone leaving for something “better” soon. I know you think this makes me selfish, inwardly focused, and not kingdom minded, but I will send them with you, I just want you to talk to me first. The fact that you don’t want to is the very reason you should do it. Don’t put my people in the tough spot of having to tell me something you should have told me. I want to launch them not lose them. One more thing, please don’t say, “I didn’t recruit/steal anybody. They approached me.” That may be true, but we both know you can lead the conversation in any direction you choose. Just be a leader with integrity and shoot straight with me. I can respect that.
5. It’s a marathon not a sprint.
90% of pastors don’t finish their careers in ministry. Right now you may think your only challenges will be raising enough money or finding a place to rent, but you will find out the emotional swings of pastoring people are crazy. The highs are going to be so high there are going to be days when you feel like you could never fail, and the lows are going to be so low you won’t be able to get out of bed. Pace yourself, God will grow your church. How you start matters. Character, integrity, honesty, they are important. Don’t burn bridges with other pastors; you don’t realize it now but one day you will need to cross those bridges. Go for it, dream big dreams, do big things, reach your city for Christ. We are brothers and we are in this together. I’m praying for you, please pray for me.