Five and a half years ago, our family answered Gods call, took the plunge, and planted a church. What started out as a handful of people gathering in our home, has now grown into a vibrant body of believers, giving our lives to bringing people to Jesus and helping them live like Him.
When it comes to planting a church or pastoring, I don’t in anyway have all of the answers. However, while walking along the church planting path, I’ve picked up on a few tips and truths, that I thought I would share with you.
12 tips for church planters:
If you can do anything else other than plant a church … do it.
If you are called to plant a church you literally will not be able to do anything else. The vision, the mission, the call of planting and pastoring this church will be the only thing you can do and actually be content.
Don’t expect everyone to always agree with the decisions you make.
As a Senior Pastor, deciding to plant the church is the first of many decisions you are going to have to make. When choosing what to do and not do, base your choices on what is right and what is wise, not on if everyone agrees. You have to be OK with not making everyone happy. Studies have shown that every decision you and I make in life is going to tick off 20% of the people we know. If that’s the case we might as well tick them off by doing what Jesus has told us to do.
Remember that your target audience is the lost … not the found.
Jesus said that he came to the world to ”Seek and Save the Lost”. Your church is like Jesus coming into a community. He wants to work thru you to “seek and save the lost”, not “borrow and steal the found”. So make your target market, people that are not already plugged into a church.
You already took a step of faith … now walk in wisdom.
Quitting your job, moving your family, taking a pay cut to plant the church was already a HUGE step of faith for you. Now as you lead your church you don’t have anything to prove to God or yourself … so walk in wisdom. Wisdom with finances, wisdom in staffing, wisdom with facilities. An element of faith is always involved for sure – but God’s wisdom will always lead you in steps not leaps.
Put emphasis on building a body not a building.
The Church is not a 501c3 not profit organization. The Church is not a building. The Church is people. The Church is People that are passionately pursuing and publicly proclaiming Jesus. Your greatest asset in ministry is not your finances. Your greatest asset is not your facility, your greatest asset is people. So as you plant the church, use your time, energy, and resources to build and gather your greatest ….people. When you build a body … the body will build the building.
Be relationally liberal but biblically conservative.
If you want to reach people you are going to have to be in relationship with them. That means if you want to reach lost people, you and your church are going to have to be in relationship with people that think, act, and believe differently than you do. However, as you are liberal with who you live life with, you have to stay conservative on how you live your life. Be friends with everyone, but as you are be sure that you always, believe, teach, and model the principles of Jesus.
Give people a chance to become owners not members.
Members have rights but owners have responsibilities. As a church planter you do not want members. Members are people that pay some money to have the right to sit down and tell other people what needs to be done. As Church planters we need owners. We need people that are not only financially invested but also physically alongside of us as we do the work of the ministry.
Understand your church is probably not as friendly as you think.
Of course you think your church is friendly. Your the pastor, everyone knows you, talks to you, wants to grab a coffee with you. But what about the person who is totally new, and doesn’t know anyone? Who greets them? Who talks with them? Who answers their questions or invites them out to coffee after service? Model friendliness, teach friendliness and set up systems where people are equipped and released to be friendly as well as follow up with newcomers each week.
Make systems that serve people … not people that serve systems.
Systems are meant to solve problems for people, but too many times systems are the problem that keep us from reaching more people. Every month take a look at how your doing, what your doing and what needs to be changed in order to serve the needs of your greatest asset people. Never be a slave to your system.
Protect the vision at all cost.
The vision is not yours it is God’s…so protect it. Preach it in a way that inspires people. Delegate it in a way that releases people and stay true to it even if you lose people. One of my mentors, who is a very successful Pastor, once told me, “Kevin at some point your biggest giver is going to want you to change your vision and if you don’t they will leave your church. When this happens … let them leave. You need God’s vision more than you need their money”.
Only do what God has called you and equipped you to do.
You can’t do everything so don’t try. Sometimes we do so many things that we actually don’t do anything. As a church plant there is no way you can have as many ministries as a church that has been in existence for 20 years. It is better to only do 3 things and have them all be great, than do 10 things have have them all be mediocre.
The structure that got you where you are – won’t get you where your going.
If you have a 1400 sq ft house and you want a 4,000 sq ft house you are going to have to change your foundational structure. If you have 200 people and you want 1000 people you are going to have to change your leadership structure. Never change for change sake (that’s stupid) but if you want something in your organization to change … don’t be afraid to change your leadership structure.