A little less than two years ago, my wife and I were inspired by the book Tangible Kingdom to start a small group with a few of the friends and neighbors we "do life" with most consistently. Our hope was to create a venue where these friends could go deeper with each other and get beyond the day-to-day posing that most of us do in our relationships. This is a group of people who are not necessarily Christ Followers but they seek greater meaning in their lives. The group was a challenge at first. We had to overcome a variety of obstacles from lack of commitment to lack of integrity. At times, we wanted to throw in the towel and, occasionally, we still do!
However, we know that God is using the group in some amazing ways we don't even fully know. As we approach the two year anniversary of the group, we've grown closer to our friends and have helped each other out in a number of ways. When we get honest with ourselves, we would be worse off without it, no matter how frustrating it gets. In a small way, our experience with this group helps me better appreciate the challenges of a planting a church. If we have struggled to maintain momentum with 6 couples, I can only imagine what it can be like with 60 or more!
The work of planting churches is hard and sometimes relentless. God gave you a specific vision to impact your corner of the world. While you can experience seasons of progress, nothing ever seems to happen as fast as you want it to. This can be discouraging.
Drew Hyun, a New York church planter, recently posted a handful of gentle reminders for church planters. It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture when we get so engrossed in our daily routines.
Two of his points made an impression on me:
- Confront reality and keep moving ahead (Matt. 6:34)
Church planters know how frustrating and downright spirit-breaking it can be when your church doesn’t seem to grow as fast as you had hoped it would. Our pace is not necessarily God’s pace, and we need to remember that all things grow one day a time. Keep the faith.
- Avoid the comparison trap (Phil. 4:11–13)
It is too easy to compare your church with another one located nearby or founded around the same time as yours. Hyun points out that comparing your church to others causes you to lose sight of what God’s called you and your church to do. While learning from other pastors and churches is critical, comparing your church to theirs is not helpful.
I have a deep respect for the people who choose to start a new church. Church planting is a tough assignment. I try to encourage every church planter I meet because every leader deserves a champion. I'm proud of how Church Community Builder supports church planting and love to revisit the stories of new churches who started with us early on to see how they've grown and multiplied over time. The future is bright for the Kingdom of God. I—for one—am grateful to get a front row seat.
In what ways do you encourage church planters? Please share!