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10 Things to Know About Church Planting in an Urban Context

1. You’re a limited leader. (Exodus 18:18)

People will want you to be the omnigifted leader, and you’ll be tempted to believe it. It’s important to know who you are and who you are not. The only thing worse than the people wanting you to be omnigifted is the pastor who believes he actually is. This will quickly drain you of the joy of shepherding people. Embrace your limits and work your strengths.

2. Process your hurt. (1 Peter 5:7)

Pastors aren’t exempt from hurt and many have “daddy issues” that haven’t been addressed. Oftentimes the pulpit is the “See, I made it” platform to address the hurt caused by an absentee father or an overly aggressive mother. Whatever the case, it’s vital that you realize that you need God’s grace and much counsel. In short, get help and embrace your frailty and dependence upon the King. If you don’t, you will look for the church to heal these wounds only to find out that the help is not there. On top of that, these wounds will only be highlighted in your church plant. Seeking counsel isn’t a sign of weakness, but in fact it’s a display of humble strength.

3. You’re not planting the church; your family is planting the church. (Ephesians 6)

It’s vital that you don’t make the plant your baby. Your plant could fail and God may very well use that to bring you closer to Him. I’m sure you believe you’re the exception and that’s fine. I want your church plant to thrive, but the reality is that’s not always the case. Church planting is ugly, brutal and tiring, but it has the greatest rewards. If the church is everything, you’ll neglect your family, and they don’t deserve that. Plan for your family prior to planning everything for the church. Don’t fail your family and not include your wife in crucial decisions throughout the growth and pains of your plant. Remember, your family is planting with you.

4. You’ll experience inner and outer prejudice. (Galatians 2:11-21)

Many people of your own race won’t understand the theological stances, but those outside your race will assume you’re rare because of their lack of exposure to true, gospel-centered, biblically orthodox African-American pastors. It comes with the territory. Stay faithful to the word and don’t build identity around this. If you do, you’ll see yourself as a savior to the context as opposed to being called to the context.

5. Go after men. (1 Timothy 6:11-16)

Men are an apologetic within themselves in the context because this is literally the most fatherless generation ever. It is vital that you speak to men, encourage men and give men a platform to use their gifts for the King. Nurture the men of your circle and train them to go after other men. Men will bring families to your church (and I love my sisters), but it’s vital that we don’t exploit them by having them do everything within the ministry. Get men and get as many as you can.

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J.D. Greear, Ph.D., is the President of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastors the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC. Tagged by Outreach magazine as one of the fastest growing churches in America, the Summit has grown in the past 8 years from 400 to over 5,000 each weekend. The Summit Church is deeply involved in global church planting, having undertaken the mission to plant 1000 churches in the next 40 years. J.D. has authored Breaking the Islam Code and the upcoming Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary.