I’ve noticed a few mistakes common in the church planting community since starting LifeCity Church. Now, I’ve got plenty of my own faults to be sure. But here are five common mistakes that I believe we were fortunate enough to avoid. And I don’t hear very many people speaking out on these issues, so I hope to deter someone from these five potential landmine…
- Launching too quickly. You’re an eager, driven, and highly motivated church leader. Chances are, you’ve been dreaming of starting a church for several years. Once in your target community, the urge to break into a launch day is significant. Take your time. You only get to launch once – make it count. You need rapport with your community, time to find people of peace, and an understanding of the lay of the land. We took over a year once in our community to launch LifeCity. I’m very grateful that we didn’t try to launch 9 months earlier, like I planned on at one point! And we dreamed and prepared for this for an entire decade.
- Blowing all your resources. This tends to go with the first point above. Sadly, many church plants mow through all their financial support by the time they get to launch day. The thought that 200 people are going to show up just because you opened a worship service and all 200 are ready to tithe and financially sustain your new church is a farce. It takes time to make disciples. Years in fact. Budget your resources internally and externally, to go the distance. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are church plants. Don’t be so short sighted.
- Not pastoring people. I know far too many people with the title “pastor” who don’t understand what it means to actually pastor people in their church and community. Hint: It has nothing to do with preaching to them. It has a lot more to do with loving them when they feel unlovable. It’s helping them process things from the perspective of their Heavenly Father, and loving them even when they don’t follow that guidance. Preaching is easy – even fun. Pastoring is the real blood, sweat, and many, many tears of ministry. If you’re not willing/able to be a pastor to people, don’t bother planting a church. It’ll kill you.
- Thinking big, but not small. Every church planter has a big vision. At least, all the ones I’ve known. But one of the distinct differences I’ve seen between the one’s who succeed and the ones who do not, is their capacity to break down a big vision into manageable milestones. Small steps get you to the top floor of the highest skyscraper. Too many planters try to jump ten stories at a time and call it “faith”. But faith is never the easy road. It takes way more faith to work your way through the small steps and believe you’ll get to the top floor faster than trying to jump story to story. And there’s no elevator (read shortcut) to the floor God wants to take His church.
- Lack of context. If the vision of your church doesn’t embody the cultural considerations of the people of your community, there’s something wrong. My community is extremely diverse – we empower leaders of diverse ethnicity because we want to be a reflection of our neighborhood. Half of our community works in the tech industry – we have a strong social media presence. “Casual Friday” is all week long here, even in the “big” businesses – we dress down on Sunday mornings. Context is critical wherever you’re ministering.