This month marks the five year mark in our church planting journey. We didn’t have our first Sunday service until January 2007 but it was October 2006 that got the ball rolling. Our plant was unique in that we were sent out of a larger church with a healthy group of people. That benefit made the ball roll a lot faster than the average church plant. We are blessed and thankful for that but I have to tell you that it hasn’t come without requiring a pound of flesh or maybe two.
It is well documented that church planting is the trendy thing to do. To be honest I never wanted to plant and was more hoping to take over for the pastor I worked for when he decided to retire. God had other plans and here we are five years later. It has been an incredible ride but I think it is important to address some of the perils of church planting that I have experienced.
- It will require everything of you and then a whole lot more. Oswald Sanders says “When God finds a person who is ready to lead, … and take on responsibility for others, that person is used to the limit.” Being a pastor by nature requires everything of you but church planting exacerbates that even more because many times it is only you. Your family will have to sacrifice, your health will take a back seat, and your peace of mind will frantically search some happy place. The issues and attacks are at times unrelenting and it will take a toll on your life. You can practice all the time management that many of the popular speakers advocate but it still won’t turn off your mind. Few of us are disciplined enough not to think about the church twenty four hours a day (yes that means many sleepless nights).
- You will come under attack. By this I mean Spiritual Attack. At times it will be subtle and at times it will be all out frontal attack on you, your family, your leadership, and even unsuspecting people in your church. We are currently in a season of unprecedented spiritual attack in our church. It has been a brutal summer and has transitioned strongly into the fall. One of the reasons is that God is doing a work in all of our ministries and has us poised for something greater and that battle has been fierce. Another reason is that we have been dealing with a lot of compromise when it come sto sin. You are never ready for spiritual warfare. You can be read up, prayed up, and on alert and then somebody comes and undercuts you from behind. That is the most frustrating thing of all. It has driven us to our knees in prayer.
- There is always stuff to deal with. One thing that has caught me by surprise is all the details. It is never ending. It doesn’t matter how much you can delegate or say no to, there will always be nagging issues that will attempt to distract you from teaching the Word of God. When I mean nagging I am not talking about people’s personal issues, I welcome them. I welcome all counseling, hospital visits, volunteer recruitment. What I am talking about is staffing issues, power struggles, petty issues people have because they don’t get their way. These are what grate at you on a daily basis. These are the real reason most people leave ministry.
Don’t get me wrong being a pastor and doing a church plant has been the greatest thing that has happened to me in my work in the ministry. I know I should encourage you with some words that it will be okay but I am not there right now. The truth is that we need to be aware and considerate of these things. There are many more perils that I could talk about but I think this will get the conversation started. Let me know which ones you have faced.