Someone said once, Confession is good for the soul, but lousy for the reputation. That is especially true if you are clinging to your own reputation. At some point, you discover that Jesus was a man of great reputation, not you.
At the risk of continuing to “ruin my reputation” by confessing my own failure, I trust you will see a man whose “weakness was turned to strength” because Jesus really is able to do more than we can ask or think.
You and I are day by day being made into what God had destined for us, in our original design and purpose, before the creation of the world. And that is happening as you plant the church God has called you to plant. My aim for you, as you read these series of confessions, is that you would be able to create a specific, dated plan for reducing your own dependence on yourself through Kingdom Prayer and Dependence of the Holy Spirit.
So I have another confession. I assumed that if people really got the Gospel then everything would just work itself out. I presumed on God that if I focused on the organism, the life of the church, that the organization would happen. In other words, the organism would run the organization. I didn't ever have a class in business or finance. Seminary didn’t teach organizational management. My professors taught me how to preach, teach, counsel and do “spiritual things.”
Perhaps like most Planters, you are not good at managing things or systems. You need people who can do the organizational details for you, but you are still responsible to know the details, at least for a season. If you aren’t good at budgeting, strategy, and organizational charts, you will have to learn. If you aren’t good at organizing your time by priority, you will have to learn. If you aren’t good at organizing teams, you will have to learn. I had to go to “business school” to learn what I needed. I had to read, to study, to ask business leaders how to run a living organization.
Money, managing things, and systems do not just take care of themselves. I believed that if I clearly taught the Gospel of God’s free grace, and if people really got that, they would just give generously.
But even Paul had to tell Timothy, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment… Teach them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”
I regret not teaching a Gospel of rich generosity so the disciples of Jesus would have known a deeper degree of the generous blessing they have (and would have) in giving away their lives. The focus on gathering not scattering inhibited my growth as well as their growth.
If you don't have a church planting coach to ask these kinds of things about, ask yourself,
“What are two or three actions you can take to learn more about the organizational pieces of a church? (people to see, books to read, churches to study, classes to take, etc) and
When will you next collaborate with someone about this issue?”
Another vital area where I failed in my first plant: I was focused more on getting more followers rather than focusing on the production of more leaders.
I was working hard to try and raise the attendance in worship service by tinkering with the music, messages, children’s program, and facilities. But one of Jesus’ desires while on earth was to develop a group of leaders who could serve as catalysts for the redemption and renewal of all things, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
It has been said, “Reproducing leaders is the most important task of any person with influence. When you raise up and empower leaders, you make a positive impact on yourself, your organization, your generation and the next generation.”
Increased attendance will not last without leaders in place to disciple and shepherd them. No matter how many people you have attending, your focus should be on developing leaders.
According the report “Church Plant Survivability”, “If the church planter provides leadership development training for new church members, the odds of survivability increase by over 250%.” (Stetzer, 2007 www.newchurches.com).
With that being true, it is crucial that you commit yourself as a leader to developing other leaders, not as an added program, but a regular part of you life.
Remember, you don’t have to plant a church alone. If you need a specific, dated plan for reducing your own dependence on yourself and learning to depend more on Christ Jesus, learn from the wisdom of the fighters who have gone to battle prior to your arrival. We suggest getting a C.R.O.S.S. Gospel Coach to help walk with you through the challenges you’ve never faced before.
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 about the planter’s Relational, Personal, Missional and Spiritual life.
Having a church planting Gospel Coach increases the likelihood you will live through this, stay married, and your kids won’t hate the church. It’s worth the money, the time, and the investment.
A Gospel Coach is one of the men who is watching your back. He’s been there and done hard things. He cares about you, your wife and your family and can speak truth, point out skills needed and connect you to the gospel when you forget it. And you will. And if your supervisor(s) are wise, they will listen to him as your advocate when things are hard.
A C.R.O.S.S. Coach will help encourage and equip you every step along the way. Click here to learn more about C.R.O.S.S. Coaching for Church Planters and 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!