If I could turn back time (Do you hear Cher singing too?) there are a few things I wish someone would’ve told our core church planting team. There are actually ten things but for the sake of shorter attention spans, we’ll break them into two parts.
God has just as much planned for today as He does for tomorrow.
Longing and excitement for the days ahead characterize the hearts of those who are planting. We were so excited about what the future might bring we forgot God was working in the here and now. He wants to prepare you for tomorrow. He does that work of preparation today. Fight the temptation to long for the days ahead at the expense of His presence and work at this very moment.
Unspoken expectations are watered seeds of future disaster.
Vision is exciting and it fuels the passion of planters and their teams. But, vision is a preferable future, not a guaranteed future. As vision is cast it creates various images in the minds of those involved in planting. Those images of expectations will never match perfectly with reality. The more planters and planting teams can openly discuss their expectations, the better those expectations can be prepared for meeting the realities of ministry as a new church.
Creating a culture is immensely easier than changing a culture.
Creating a new church with new people in a new place is exhilarating. Create a culture of experimentation where there is always permission to try something new. Leverage the early days of being ritual-free and be intentional about creating a culture that represents the vision God has given.
Success is measured by faithful obedience.
If someone would have shared this truth with me 12 years ago, it would have had a significant impact on my personal ministry as a church planter. Whether you have 15 or 500 people gathering at this new church during your launch year, it does not determine your success. Be confident in what God has called you to do and be found faithfully obedient to that calling, then you will find success. Remember, we serve His definition of success and not that of the world.
It will happen to you.
The church planting discussion is full of voices these days. There are so many good things to hear and know as a planter or a planting team. One huge temptation is to hear the cautions and respond dismissively, “That will never happen to us.” It may happen to you. Some of those truths will definitely happen to you and some of them may be the things you would never expect. Ask God to form your expectations by His wisdom instead of your self-derived desires.
The final 5 coming in the next post…