3 years I ago, on the day before we celebrated our 3-year anniversary as a church, I wrote this.
3 years later, two days after we celebrated our 6-year anniversary of our church, I thought it would be wise to write about what I’ve learned since.
LESSON #1: There will be people who leave and hate you deeply, BUT there will also be people who stay and love you dearly.
Before leaving for my sabbatical and upon my return, I experienced the deep love, respect, and appreciation that many people in the congregation have for my wife and I. It felt so good!
As hard is it is to deal with people who leave and don’t have very many positive feelings for you as they go, focus on the people who love you. Appreciate the people who love you. Continue to invest in the people who love you. Investing in haters is a waste of energy.
Key note: Some people who stay will actually hate you (why they stay I’ll never understand), but some people who leave will actually love you. I guess the bottom line is…you’ll always have to deal with BOTH!
LESSON #2: Your spouse will pay a price, BUT your spouse won’t regret the price they pay.
They will get less of your attention. They will get less of your emotional energy. They will get less of your time. They will constantly feel like they are “sharing” you with the church.
But, if you do your best to never sacrifice your spouse on the altar of ministry, set boundaries, and are sensitive to your spouse’s needs, there will be days when your spouse says to you, “I know that this has been hard, but I’m glad we did it.” The church plant will reveal to your spouse who God is in ways that nothing else ever could. And there will be days when they recognize that truth. Those days are the best.
LESSON #3: Most of what you want to happen won’t, BUT everything God wants to happen will.
The amount of people. The amount of money. The amount of salvations. The amount of baptisms. The amount of impact—you’re very likely always going to want more than what is. More than what God has given you.
But what I’ve come to find out after six years of leading a church plant is this: the amount of people, money, salvations, baptisms, and impact that God does give you, is exactly the amount you’re supposed to have!
LESSON #4: Money will always be an issue, BUT you can impact how big of an issue it will be.
Specifically in regards to money, you’ll always feel like you need more. But, the level of anxiety, worry, frustration and fear that your church/team has around the issue of money will be a direct reflection of your attitude towards your financial situation.
The more faith, hope, and confidence you have that God will financially provide for the church’s needs, the more faith, hope, and confidence your church will have that God will provide.
The choice is yours. You can either be a “thermostat” that constantly sets the “temperature” to faith and expectancy or you will be a “thermometer” that merely reads the “temperature” of fear and worry that enters the room every time finances get tight. Be a thermostat.
LESSON #5: Volunteers will constantly be quitting, BUT volunteers are who God will consistently keep sending.
They’re “burnt out.” Their “season” of serving is over. They’re too busy. They move away. You will very rarely have a month where a volunteer doesn’t quit.
But, as you pray to the Lord of the harvest to send laborers, He will send laborers. He will send exactly who you need, at exactly the right time, every single time! If you don’t have the volunteer you want now, you very likely don’t need them now. Wait on the Lord.
LESSON #6: Leading people to pray corporately is hard, BUT neglecting to pray corporately will always make ministry harder.
Getting a church community to remain committed to praying together is one of the hardest things you will ever attempt to do. Week after week, month after month, getting people to see the importance of gathering to pray together will feel like pushing a 200-pound boulder up a steep incline. Leading a community of faith in consistent corporate prayer is hard work.
But, here’s why I don’t give up. Doing ministry void of an emphasis on corporate prayer is like standing on the bottom of a steep incline trying to stop a 200-pound boulder, that is coming right at you, before it runs you over—it is IMPOSSIBLE.
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN.
If you are a church planter, part of a church planting team, or an attender of a church-planting church, what lessons have you learned about church-planting? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below! I’d like to learn from you. For real.