(Warning: this began as a short post…it became a major mind and heart dump about church planting. Read at your own risk).
I was at a church planters conference the other day. It was good. I noticed some planters who had a plan, their wives were in it with them, and they are still about to face all the things in this article. They might make it. There are many variables, and it’s tough with the best of support (and the best of support is very rare).
I saw others, starry eyed, wives not really on board or not even present, with a deep love for the church, but ready to go be an entrepeneur for Jesus. Oh, boy. This is gonna be a rough ride. For these guys: don’t do it. I beg you, thee, thou, y’all, yuns, whoever will listen.
To all I say: count the cost. I am not being negative here. When I started planting years ago, only a fool would do it. Some Pastors would even mock it saying it was for “preachers who couldn’t cut it in a ‘real’ church.” Only a call from God would bring someone to be a church planter for the most part. By the way, many denominations and networks still functionally operate this way, as they recruit ministry novices (because they are cheap) who are set up to fail miserably. The land is littered with the damage of this mindset and its horrific effect on church planters and their families.
But now it’s cool to plant, and there are not a few “wantrepeneurs” who are motivated by some idea of how awesome it will be. It will be awesome, but not how they are thinking. It will kill “you.” Your pride, your self worth found in position, your ego, your “stuff” will all be held to the light and exposed. Jesus thinks that’s awesome, but you won’t find it in our church planting vision statements.
There is nothing you can do in ministry that will be more emotionally brutal than church planting. I promise you. Some have not believed me. See, they are “different.” Until they do it and they discover that they aren’t. You will not bypass the cost of church planting to your heart and soul even if you know all about it. Knowing the 5 stages of grief doesn’t mean you don’t experience them. You WILL walk this path, and it will kill “you.” That’s not a bad thing.
So, if you’re a planter, read this article by my friend, Aaron Loy, and know you are not alone. If you are considering planting, read this article and COUNT THE COST.
If you are reading this and know a planter, pray for him and his wife, and DO something like call or send encouragement to them- especially his wife. And, if you really love Jesus – understand that he has to raise funds for his family to live AND the church’s start up and operating costs in the first few years. There is no magic benefactor out there. He scrapes for every dime he raises and recruits. And there are many expectations, strings, and pressures that usually come with every penny.
So get your church to get behind one prayerfully and financially. Seriously, bug them to death until they do it. Yes, in the United States (where the population growth is significantly outpacing evangelical growth percentages- we are losing ground…badly).
And support one yourself. I promise you, a paypal of $20 will likely be a huge answer to prayer. And keep doing it.
I am a Pastor and church planter. It is the greatest job in the world. It is not for the faint of heart, but I do not feel sorry for myself here. This article and my mind/heart dump is mostly for the guys who are thinking about doing it. Glamor? ROFL! But I can’t believe the Lord considered me worthy (all grace, mind you) of walking the path of those like Paul, Barnabas, Silas, and those that have followed in the millennia since.
I don’t have a mega-church, book deal, or even a doctor’s degree or notoriety. But I have something more: Jesus is chipping away at my stuff in the refiner’s fire. Maybe I will be more like Jesus when He calls me home, and hopefully I can bring many more people with me along the way. I pray so. I have re-counted the cost today. Whatever it takes.
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mt 16:24). Let know that cross more (Phil 3:10).