Have you ever thought, “I think I might have taken this church as far as I can? Maybe I need to leave and let the next guy take it to the next level?”
If you are in (or have been in) the critical 5-7 years post launch of your church I suspect you have. I completely understand the why for thinking this way. In fact, there may be many reasons.
Some Planters experience discouragement. The church you now lead is not the one you envisioned six years ago. You had hoped for people to be more engaged, committed and generous. You thought there would be more conversions to Christ. People you loved and helped have left.
For other Planters it is just plain tiredness. Let’s face it. Starting a church is hard work. For some it’s the new challenges of managing people and things that have to get done. Maybe you are better at vision and ideas, and managing people is boring and difficult for you.
I suspect that you are probably in the weekly grind of sermon and services prep, and there’s little margin for thinking and visioning. You grab ideas here and there from podcasts or articles in Church Planter Magazine, but you don’t have time for thinking and praying.
So what can a Planter do?
First, get a Gospel Coach.
Our friend, Omar Ortiz said, “I first began using a Gospel coach during a very difficult season of ministry in church renewal. My coach helped me to have a renewed sense of purpose and direction in my ministry. More than that, however, my coach helped me to see my own need to repent of sinful patterns in my life. He helped me to move beyond simply paying lip service to applying the gospel to my life and actually led me there. Gospel coaching has been one of the most profound experiences I have had in ministry.”
Your health and the health and thriveability of your family is most important.
No magic wands can be waved to make that happen. A Gospel Coach can help a lot. If you don’t have one, don’t delay. No matter how great a planter you’ve been so far, a Gospel Coach can help with the health and sustainability you need. I’m not talking about a life coach or a buddy that’s planted before. Even the best golfers in the world have a golf coach. You need a church planting coach that is able to bring the gospel to bear on all aspects of your life — Relational, Personal, Missional and Spiritual.
When I ask a Planter who is thinking about leaving, “What do you think the next guy will have to do to grow and become a reproducing church?” The majority list several things they know need to be done.
Well, why not do them yourself with the leveraged leadership you’ve earned? Most Planters leave before they get a return on their relational investment is realized. You won’t begin to get the return on those investments — married couples, counseled people through bondage and addiction, buried loved ones, baptized and discipled — until after the seventh year. If you leave at year 5, 6 or 7, you lose the return.
Second, have a health assessment done for you, the leaders, and the church.
Like going to a physician for a check up, this can get the true reading on where you are as a church and help bring renewal and hope for the present and future ministry in the city God has planted you. You can learn more about church health assessment at www.churchleaderinventory.com.
God’s calling is God’s enabling. As I’ve written elsewhere, you are perfectly righteous in Jesus so you have nothing to prove. You are eternally loved so you have nothing to fear. You are completely forgiven so you have nothing to hide.
Remember, you don’t have to plant a church alone. Never before have there been more resources for training as there are now. If you want to have a Gospel-centered church, it’s important to have a gospel-centered coach. Church Planter Coaching is an intentional Gospel conversation with focused discussions about the planter’s relational, personal, missional and spiritual life. Click here to learn about CMM's Next 5 to 7 ministry for church planting pastors today!
Dr. Tom Wood
I've been in the Church Planting business my entire career. I want you to know, you don't have to plant a church alone!