Most church planters I know walk into church planting with clarity in four areas:
- They know how God has wired them- including their passions, talents, strengths, and giftedness.
- They sense a calling to a specific group of people- whether it’s a neighborhood, cultural group, city, etc.
- They have a clear vision of what the church could and should be- rooted in the intersection of scripture and cultural context.
- They have a process in mind of how this will work- which involves strategic steps in leading people individually and collectively forward in following Jesus.
Many times when circumstances appear tougher, people respond slower, and momentum takes longer than we anticipated, we prematurely abandon the process for something that appears to move us more quickly towards our desired destination. Taking these shortcuts almost always leads to unanticipated long-term consequences. If we trust God’s leading in the areas of wiring, calling, and vision, we should also trust Him in the area of process. Much like the Apostle Paul, God has wired you to be a foundation builder so taking shortcuts in the process is like taking a shortcut in laying the foundation of a home. The home might look really nice, but you wouldn’t want your family to live there because you know what will happen to that home over time (and especially if a terrible storm hits).
If you’re frustrated and reconsidering your process, here’s a few questions to consider before abandoning it and embracing something new:
- Is it Biblical? Sounds obvious but if you find yourself doing theological gymnastics to get around scripture then it’s worth reconsidering.
- Can you imagine Jesus doing this? It’s important whether you could imagine Jesus air-dropping into your context and doing something similar.
- Have you tested your ideas with trusted leaders? Talk to other leaders you know with proven Christ-like character and competence in church planting.
- Are you chasing a Christian fad? You’ll often see someone who seems to be getting where you want to be and getting there faster. When I moved to NJ in 2004 an up and coming church planter came on the scene who took a Christian “shock jock” approach to leadership. His church was growing rapidly, his books were selling millions, and I honestly enjoyed his podcasts. Some of the stuff he put out there was on target, but some of it wasn’t. Many leaders attempted to mirror his personality and posture with how they led and taught others because it seemed to work without seriously considering the first three questions.
Much like a farmer tilling his fields, a soldier following commands, or a runner training for a marathon, we’re called to trust the process and believe it will lead us towards the vision God has planted in our hearts and minds.