6 Things I Have Learned While Church Planting
December 16, 2014
Needless to say, I have learned far more than six things. I hope to elaborate on those later (e.g., issues concerning commitment, expectations, etc.). In the meantime, here are six observations.
1. Do not compare yourself to other churches. It is extremely easy to think you have the best of everything in your church. Once that mentality is imbibed, you begin to wonder how Christians could attend other churches in the community. You further wonder how other churches in the community have a larger attendance. Those Christians should be coming to you. After all, you are preaching the gospel and administering the sacraments rightly. After dwelling on these things, you begin to write-off other churches. It is an unhealthy place to be. Despite differing views on various items (e.g., RPW), God uses crooked sticks, which we all are, to glorify himself. He has people in other churches for his own purposes.
2. Do not ride the roller coaster of attendance. One week, your numbers are exciting. Two weeks later, it looks like the building is empty. At times like these, you may begin to question your ministry effectiveness. Rather than walking along the shaky path of attendance, it seems easier to focus on the faithful saints who are present. If they have been taught accurately and they believe what has been taught, despite small numbers, you have a faithful lot who are there to receive the word and sacraments, as well as praise God in prayer and song and have fellowship one with another. Thank God for the ones who are present; thank God for the ones who are absent.
3. Do not expect others in your community to join you. The PCA is a connectional church. In short, that should mean we do things together. My experience demonstrates that those in my presbytery are fully supportive of our church plant, both in terms of prayer and finances. We are planting this church together. However, just because church officers are supportive, that does not mean laypersons are willing to take the church planting journey with you. You may have members of various PCA congregations in your church planting area, but you cannot expect them to join your efforts. For many reasons (e.g., comfort, familiarity, relationships, children, etc.), they will maintain their membership at their present church, all the while continuing to drive by your congregation each Sunday.
4. Numbers boost morale. While we ought not to ride the waves of attendance, when visitors attend, it boosts the morale of the congregation. They have prayed for visitors, invited others to join the work, and evangelized in the community. When they see people visit the church as a result of any of the aforementioned, it gladdens their hearts.
5. Delegate. The pastor should not maintain responsibility for everything. He needs to learn that, while everything under the sun may not be done exactly like he would do it, the saints need the opportunity to exercise their gifts and take ownership, so-to-speak, of the church. Many churches, it seems, struggle with the 80/20 rule. 80% of the work is completed by 20% of the people. Therefore, let all those who are desirous to serve in the church, serve.
6. God's church can be unified. Despite the recent events in the USA (e.g., Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, etc.), God's church can be unified across ethnic, cultural, political, and socio-economic lines. Crown and Joy is a perfect example of that.