Recently, I’ve spoken with a dozen or so church planters, or those wrestling the call, several each week, and the same issues come up every time. I want to share some thoughts based on my personal experiences planting two churches. These are usually transferable to all church pastorates, but especially planters.
Here are three challenges for every church planter:
I get asked if my established church will be a “strategic partner” in a church plant about once every couple of weeks. I get it. I really do. We don’t have any extra money right now, but church planting takes money. It is great if your mother church can support your budget or you get numerous churches to contribute. Don’t turn down cash. You’ll need it. Lots of it.
But I always offer a reality check here. The money will always be tight. There will never be enough. It’s in very rare circumstances this is not true.
My strong word of encouragement is to strive to rely less on outside help and more on those God has called you to minister with in the church plant.
When we planted, both times, we challenged the people building the ministry to fund the ministry. And it is a challenge. It means you’ll often be discipling people to give who aren’t accustomed to giving. But you’ll need disciplined and fully invested people. If they have their money on the line, they’ll do almost anything to make the plant work. As much as possible, build your ministry around the people in the room. Their generosity will often determine your ability to grow a healthy church. Plus it’s good discipleship to build into the church’s DNA.
I know. That’s a hard word, isn’t it? But look at it this way: The time you spend jumping through hoops for a few dollars from a denomination that often come with multiple strings attached, you can spend building maturity in your people who will support you financially.
Men and women are different and will react differently to the move and to the stress of planting. I’ve found it can be an excellent balance if the two are in sync with each other and communicating well. You should both be equally called, but your initial enthusiasm may not be the same.
One thing I’ve noticed, and cautioned many planters about, is that the wife’s emotions may (probably will) respond differently. I’ve always found Cheryl to be slower to acclimate emotionally to the new place of service. She can know it is where we are supposed to be. Her faith is often even stronger than mine. But her heart is more likely to be tender longer toward the place we left. I have to be careful not to assume she’s as excited every day as I am.