Things That Make Church Planting Hard


Things that make church planting hard: The every day realization that it’s not really about you. The mail comes around 11:30 in the morning. If you go to the mailbox and there aren’t any support checks, it’s easy to begin to feel like people have forgotten you. When a pastor doesn’t return your phone call it can ruin your week. God doesn’t answer your prayers right now. Let’s be honest, each of us has allowed these preoccupations to rule our thoughts and ruin our week.

Things that make church planting hard: Realizing that all of the people you knew were going to support you never actually willWhen we set out to plant a church, we each have a top-ten list of people we just know will join our team or support us financially. They almost never do. I don’t know why that is. The good news is, God brings amazing people into your life; new people that become an intricate part of your personal life and ministry. People that give generously and work hard.

Things that make church planting hard: There is never enough money. This could go without saying. Everything costs money…P.O. boxes, website hosting, office space, business cards, cookies for team meetings, sound equipment, incorporation documents. I don’t think there’s a way around it; planting a church is expensive. Say goodbye to your dream of wearing a brand new pair of socks everyday. By the time you’re ready to launch, you may not remember the last time you got new socks. Oh yeah, it was last Christmas. Your mom saw the holes in your socks and felt sorry for you.

Things that make church planting hard: In the middle of hard decisions, God’s timing always seems off. Way off. Let’s be honest…we know what’s best for the church we are planting! We know exactly when everything should happen. The only real question is, how can we get God on the same page? Right? I cannot tell you how many times I have prayed, “God, ok, GO! We need things to move right now!” However, I look back at all the times I thought God should move right then and realize that when He didn’t, He was protecting me or preparing me or putting pieces together that I couldn’t see.

Things that make church planting hard: You cannot make anyone join your team. There are people that you are absolutely sure would be a great addition to your team. Amazing people. Gifted and talented people. People with whom you connect well. People that aren’t currently committed elsewhere. None of that matters. You cannot force them to join you. If you try, you will destroy your friendship. If you do succeed in twisting someone’s arm to join your team, you will almost certainly regret it.

Things that make church planting hard: There is never enough money. This is still true. Even when you are fully supported, money will, at some point, create a roadblock.

Things that make church planting hard: The people most eager to join don’t really understand what you’re doing. The people that do understand are already busy doing it. Occasionally, you run across someone that is excited to be part of your team. It won’t be long until you realize they really don’t know what’s going on. They often try to steer you in another direction. When you talk, they nod as though they understand, but then do the exact opposite. Yet, there are times you encounter someone who really gets it. They understand the nuances of the culture to which God has called you. If they were to join your team, you know you could more effectively win your city for Jesus. The only problem? They are planting a church somewhere else!

Things that make church planting hard: Everyone wants to help you build something. With wood and sheet metal siding and nail guns. It never fails…when you share your vision at a church, someone will offer their construction skills to help you build it. In their mind, the first step for starting a church is digging the foundation. There is a commonly held misconception of what church really is: church as a building versus church as a community of believers.

Things that make church planting hard: The constant battle between pride and self-doubt. I don’t know about you, but I go back and forth between overconfidence in my own abilities and crippling self-doubt. One moment I am sure I can make this happen and the next moment, I really don’t know why God chose me for this task. My most productive days are the ones when I recognize that it is Jesus who builds His church and that my job is to be faithful in the task He has given me.

Things that make church planting hard: It’s way easier to do anything else today. There are days when all I can think about is rebuilding the carburetor on my snow blower. No, it doesn’t matter that it’s July; I plan to use this snow blower to serve my neighbors when winter comes. I can’t do that if it won’t start. Of course, there are a million things on my real to do list. But, today, fixing the snow blower is far more important.

Things that make church planting hard: The city zoning board would rather put a women’s consignment shop there. You found the perfect place to meet. Only one problem: your perfect space is zoned as commercial retail space. This means your county zoning commission would rather see a store there where no one will ever shop than to see a church in that space.

Things that make church planting hard: Other church planters have messed things up before youLet’s face it, one reason church planting is hard is often due to the past failures of others. Everyone remembers a time when it didn’t work. Everyone remembers mistakes made by others who have gone before you. Congratulations! You get to prove that isn’t you. Yes, it’s unfortunate and unfair, but such is the life of a church planter.

Things that make church planting hard: Everyone knows Paul was a tent maker. You have shared your vision with another pastor or a member of your home church or your best friend from Bible College. They get excited about the vision. They seem to be on board.  You ask if they would consider supporting you on a monthly basis. They reach out to place their hand on your shoulder, they look you in the eye, and then they utter those dreaded words…”Paul was a tent maker. You should consider looking for a part time job.”

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