We are in a day when churches are popping up everywhere. This is also a time when many churches are closing. I feel like I have at least a small amount of credibility in writing such a post. Let me say, first, that I am a believer in church plants. I am also a believer in church revitalization. I am not, however, a believer in all these man-made formulas that rule out the Holy Spirit.
Maybe you are reading this today, and you have been part of a church plant or are considering being a planter or part of a launch team. I don’t know your reasoning, but I do know it better be a clear call from God. Otherwise, you may be led to plant because of one of these horrible reasons:
- You want to preach on a weekly basis. If this is the case, you can find a nursing home, Christian recovery facility, or a prison. I can attest to the fact that some of these places will be a lot less critical than preaching to the same people every week.
- You want to create a situation that better fits your ministry philosophy. May I remind you that people are people, and they will be people no matter what kind of rules and guidelines you have envisioned. They will bring their preconceived thoughts about how a church should operate, especially if they have a church background.
- You want to create an environment less like the traditional church that hurt you. Once again, people are people. You can remove the business meetings and traditional trappings, but the same issues will exist.
- You think you’ll work less. This one is hysterical! When you start from the ground up, you will work hard. You will HAVE TO surround yourself with people whose gifts make up for your lack. Be careful though! You will find that many will expect the church planter to possess all the great gifts that can build a church. I can say from experience that you better have all the key programs that consumers want, or you won’t be so quick to attract the young families. They will quickly drop you like a hot potato for churches with strong children and youth ministries, even if they like the authentic community and strong points of your church plant. Nine times out of ten, they will pick their children over you. We are still fighting the battle of the consumer-driven church. If you want numbers, you better work hard on the front end to draw them. I will warn you that what you use to bait them is what you will need to keep them.
This list is, by no means, exhaustive. I, and many others with experience, could add to the list. I want to encourage you to really seek some godly wisdom if you are entertaining being part of a church plant. Don’t just seek them in the beginning, but keep this godly counsel throughout the process. Find people who will challenge you and ask you the hard questions. If you don’t, you just might have a train wreck up ahead.