In my previous post, we identified three things that established churches can learn from church plants. I want to go the other direction now: what can church plants learn from established churches? Almost every church planter I meet has some frustration level with established churches. I've lived long enough to realize that change sometimes means stepping outside the system to create reform. But I've also learned those who bring about the reform today eventually find themselves in sitting in the other seat at some point in the future.
- Ministry is not a sprint but a marathon. It's not about getting to the finish line first but about entering the race in the first place. Paul encouraged us to run the race as if we were running for the prize, not for the sole purpose of getting a prize. It's easy to start strong; it's much more difficult to sustain a strong effort. You don't have to conquer the world in a day. Stay in the game long enough to see God's calling come to life through you.
- Institutional structure is not inherently evil. Yes, institutions are sometimes complex and difficult to to deal with. Yes, needless processes and procedures do inhibit growth and expansion. However, as your church plant grows, you, too, will be faced with the need for a more complex structure to support your growth.
- Look for ministry mentors. Don't make the mistake of thinking that your ideas are so unique that no one could ever offer you advice or guidance. That simply isn't true, and it's not Biblical. Find leaders in established churches who you can trust, learn from, confide in, and those who will support and pray for you. Planting a church can be a very lonely process, but that doesn't mean you have to do everything on your own.
If you haven't been reading The Leisure Suit series by Tony Morgan, let me encourage to to take some time to browse the first two pieces of this series. Even though he is primarily speaking to established churches, there are certainly some learning points that might help you gain some perspective and avoid the pitfalls that often come as a church plant becomes an established church.
What can your church plant learn from established churches?