When you’re a church planter, Sunday mornings are your Super Bowls, your Daytona 500s, your Final Fours. Especially your first several Sunday worship experiences after you’ve launched — those are red-letter days. But if your entire focus is on Sunday mornings, you’re missing the key things your church was planted to accomplish.
We are fortunate that we get to work with several really amazing church planting organizations, like Stadia, New Thing, and other top-notch networks that help equip church planters. The leaders in these organizations help church planters sort through the key elements of setting up their congregations and support them through those crucial first few months. And while you know I love helping churches establish solid systems and processes, through our work with these partners I’ve seen church planters in particular fall victim to the tyranny of the ‘urgent’ versus the important. Here are just a few of the ways those tyrannies strike church planters:
- You ‘get things done’, but they’re not the right things. There are so many things to get checked off lists that developing relationships can fall to the wayside. Nothing could be more dangerous to the long-term life and effectiveness of a new church, but it happens often.
- Goals get all mixed up. Discipleship is supposed to be the goal — helping people become more and more like Jesus. But things like growth and numbers and events quickly take the focus, and church planters start focusing on those things rather than the spiritual growth of your regular attenders. Metrics and numbers are amazing, but only when they’re used to support the right goals (see below).
- You’re not building for the long haul. A church with sustainable growth needs to have a healthy, vibrant culture, solid systems and processes to support that growth, and evaluation tools to make sure you’re growing the right ways. Metrics really do matter, but only when you’re using them to make sure your church is helping people become more like Jesus.
The great news is that organizations like Stadia and NewThing mean that church planters don’t have to go it alone. They’re there to support church leaders and help make sure their efforts stay in alignment with their goals. And your volunteers can be a huge help as well, when you find the folks who love systems and processes. (They’re out there, we promise!) Managing those people well means that church planters can focus on their primary jobs — making sure each person on their staff and volunteer teams knows why you’re all doing what you’re doing. And that’s to bring people closer to Jesus.
If you’re a church planter, tell me — does the urgent trump the important in your daily life? How can we help you keep the main thing the main thing?