This weekend, Revolution Church turns 4 years old. It is hard to believe that just 4 years ago, Revolution church was largely a dream in the minds of a handful of people. I thought to celebrate, I’d share 5 things I’ve learned in church planting. The 5th one is to help us move into year 5.
- Decide you’ll last. Church planting and really leadership is about lasting. It’s about being faithful to what God has called you to, sticking to it when everyone else leaves. You will have moments as a church planter, possibly before you even plant that will make you think about quitting. If God has called you to it, he will see you through it. Decide you will last. Put boundaries into place to keep you from running off with the money, sleeping with someone you aren’t married to, or giving up your vision for more money, people or leaders. Why? You will be tested in all those areas. You will be tested to quit, to take shortcuts, to give up your vision to keep a big giver or get money from a sponsoring church.
- You’ll need money, so talk about it. Most pastors hate to talk about money, but one of the biggest questions I get from people has to do with money, budgeting, giving, saving. People want to know. Bill Hybels once asked a room full of leaders, “how much ministry can you do for $100?” The answer, “About a $100 worth of ministry.” Ministry costs money. There are bills, insurance, resources needed, toys and snacks for the kids, sound equipment. All of that costs money. Everyone would like to pretend that you don’t need money, but you do. Talk about it, don’t shy away from it. Don’t talk about a need, talk about vision when it comes to money. Talk about it when giving is up and when it is down. Challenge people to steward their time, talent and treasure well. Also, don’t shy away from those with the gift of giving. Follow up with them, challenge them to grow their gift like you would someone who has the gift of evangelism or leadership.
- Choose the hills you’ll die on, because you will die on those hills. Every church and leader has hills they die, things that are non-negotiable. Whether they are in the area of doctrine, vision, philosophy. Everyone has them. When you plant or lead a church, write them down, display them visibly and proudly, talk about them often. These are the hills that are most important to you, the things that define you, the things that you will fight to the death on. Mark my words, when you choose a hill to die on, you will die on that hill. People will leave over the hills you choose and the hills you don’t, so choose them well.
- Everyone won’t stay. Speaking of people not staying, get used to it. The reality is, you can’t keep everyone. You can’t reach everyone, everyone won’t like you, everyone won’t like your preaching, location, vision, theology. It’s just not possible. Take a deep breath and realize this is okay. Find the people who buy in, who are passionate about the vision God has given to you and invest in them. It’s okay if people leave, they don’t belong to you anyway.
- Give away as much as possible. When you start a church, it is a part of you. Four years, it’s still a part of you. For it grow and for God to develop you as a leader and the rest of the gifts in your church, you must give things away. I’m not just talking about things you don’t want to do, I mean responsibility and authority. You must give them away to leaders that you trust, have character, have been tested, affirmed by others in the church. Not just anybody. This will take time and that’s okay.
If you’re a church planter, what would you add? What did you learn in the first 4 years of planting?