Thinking about starting a church plant? Think again. Then, think again, and again, and again. And pray about, then pray some more, and then pray more. If you’re absolutely sure that this is the path you are supposed to take even after that…talk to other pastors. And not just one or two, like five or ten.
Okay, that’s a bit a harsh to start this topic off. But in all honesty, planting a church isn’t for the faint of heart or the easily offended. If your feelings were hurt reading the first paragraph…this probably isn’t for you. You will hear the word no a lot. And I mean a lot. As much or more than trying to sell vacuums door to door. This can damage or kill your relationship with your spouse, hurt your children, destroy what you think about people, and possibly even jade you enough for you to turn away from ministry and even the faith.
Scared yet? Good. A healthy dose of reality and fear can be a good thing. In reality, church planting is one of, if not the, hardest ministries around. You are starting a church from the ground up. Sometimes you’ll start with help, like other leaders, or a small congregation, or maybe even a little cash. But often times you will have nothing but your wife to help you through it. And yes, this will either strengthen an already solid marriage, or it will burst open the cracks forming in a brittle one.
Why so much bad talk and no positive talk? Here’s the positive. If God is calling you to plant a church, follow Him and He will provide. Helping people find Christ, helping to restore broken relationships, feeding the homeless, clothing the naked, supporting missionaries, these are great opportunities you’ll have. But you should only take this path if you are truly called. How do we know we are called?…we pray about it, think about it, and talk about it.
Pray it over, for a while. I’m not talking about those nice one time prayers where you walk away going “yep!” I’m talking about praying for a few months, possibly years.
Think about it. Really think about it and be honest with yourself. Are you doing this because it’s what you want? Or does the thought of leading someone astray and having to account for that fact face to face with God petrify you? If you are scared but know it’s what you should do, there’s a good possibility you are called. If it’s what you want…maybe not.
Talk about it. Talk about it with your wife and family. If they are on board, then talk with your pastor, and if he’s on board…talk to other area pastors. Get ideas about what pastoring is like and what it can do to your family. Find out if they think you’re qualified and called. Chances are, talking with you they’ll have an idea.
In a nutshell, here’s how this went for me. I was at a church plant as the worship minister, became ordained. The sr pastor kept telling me he saw me as a planter and believed that’s how God had been grooming me. After leaving the plant, I found a church and became a bump on the log, just taking some time to think and pray over our direction. After a couple years God closed some doors and opened others making it clear that it was time to plant. So I prayed some more. Then I talked with my wife, for a few months. Then I went out and talked to pastors, many of which wondered what took me so long to take the plunge. I got confirmation through prayer, through my family, and through other believers and pastors. So I set out.
These things take time. But don’t get stuck in that, everybody is different and God alone know’s what each of us needs to prepare. You might feel the call and plant in 6 months. But you might feel the call and plant in 10 years. My point, and my concern for you, make sure that you are truly answering God’s call, and not your own. Sometimes it’s easy to confuse the two, that’s why we pray, think, and talk about it.