10 Signs Your Church Plant Is in Trouble

Over the last four years, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with some great church planters, including a group that I’m coaching now.  Church planters are my favorite people in ministry, because they really understand risk and faith.  I’ve watched some church plants explode with growth, some grow steadily, and some fade away.  Here are ten signs that your church plant is in serious trouble.

1.  You start focusing on the core people rather than reaching those far from God.  In my opinion, great pastors are often not great church planters.  There are two distinct skill sets.

2.  You can’t motivate people to show up early to set up.  This is a leadership and vision issue, and if you have these problems early on, they will only get worse.  If you have problems in a portable environment, you’ll have bigger problems if you get a facility.

3.  Your friends and family are with you, but you struggle to get the marginally interested to cross the line.

4.  The staff of the church do not tithe to the church.  I’m sorry, but if you don’t tithe to Oak Leaf Church, there’s no way I’m going to let you work here.

5.  The church planter refuses to let other people play a key role, thinking that he can do it all better.

6.  The church planter always lets other people play the key roles, refusing to get his hands dirty.  Church planting is not a 40-hour a week job, so if you’re not willing to meet people when they get off work, put out some road signs, or unload a U-Haul, then you’re not going to make it.  There may come a time when you can focus on teaching and vision like Andy Stanley, but it ain’t at the beginning.

7.  You repeatedly use other people’s sermons because you don’t have time to really hear from God yourself.

8.  You think your church plant is the hope for your city and that you’re doing things that nobody else is doing.

9.  You refuse to let Christians play a part in what God is doing, continually saying how you only want to reach lost people.  Yes, it is imperative that your church do more than steal people from other churches.  But there are committed Christians that believe in the mission of the local church that can help.

10.  You stop growing.  I’m talking about spiritual growth and growing as a leader.  If you’re a church planter, you need to network with other leaders, attend conferences, and read books.  You should be wise with the finances, but when you stop growing, your church will stop growing. 

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Michael Lukaszewski
After two decades as a student pastor, church planter, senior pastor and leadership consultant, Michael Lukaszewski now leads the team at Church Fuel, an organization dedicated to providing insanely practical resources to pastors. He and his wife have three children and live in the Atlanta area. Learn more at churchfuel.com.