Struggles are a part of ministry. Church planting may be the biggest struggle of them all because it is so intimately tied to the heart and soul of the church planter. We eat, sleep, and breathe our work and can never escape what we are desperately trying to do for God. Here are some things I learned from attempting to plant a church:
- Find funding first… I made the assumption (a word that has come back to haunt me on multiple occasions) that with a powerful enough vision and a compelling mission plan that the money would follow. While it’s true that God supplied all my needs, usually at the last moment, I know that I should have secured significantly more money prior to heading out to plant Morningstar Church. My transition time from existing church to church plant should have been longer giving me the opportunity to begin the groundwork while still serving a local church. I believe that both the existing church and the church plant would have been blessed by sharing in this time of transition. The transition time would have also allowed for more time to raise funding and make plans logistically and personally.
- Take a team… I am increasingly coming to believe that parachute-drop church planting has seen its time pass as the most effective way to plant a church in the Twenty-first Century. No one person is gifted in all the areas that it takes to get a church from concept to community in our ever complex and changing society. You need a variety of gifts to begin this project, you need people with the gift of organization and administration, those who have a sound knowledge of business practices and marketing, creative people who can take a concept and convey it with words and pictures, and leaders who can help you develop an action plan and oversee its implementation. This is not even to mention the people you need to lead worship, teach the children, and set up chairs and equipment every week.
- Find a mentor… You need somebody who can pick you up when you stumble and who can lovingly correct you when you make mistakes. This person should be someone who has done this type of work before and knows the peaks and pitfalls of what you are going through. Loneliness is one of the biggest pitfalls of church planting, especially for parachute-drop planters. The mentor can be the person who brings fresh eyes to your ideas, hopes, and dreams and helps mold them into workable ideas.
Be on the lookout for Part 2 of "Ten Tips from a Failed Church Planter." Do you have any advice from past planter experiences you'd like share with us? You might be able to help someone else avoid trouble down the road.
Adapted from the blog "Ten Tips from a Failed Church Planter" by Rev. Marty Cauley