Church planting is hard work, so there is really no need to make it any harder than it should be. In this post I want to share with you the hand-full of lessons I have learned thus far in the nearly two months since I began the core group phase of launching Foundation Community Church.
- If you are married, make sure your spouse is 100% on board. I’m dead certain that if my wife was not completely on board with the start of Foundation, that I would’ve quit after a few weeks. While you may be the pastor, you can not separate your wife from you in ministry. Your wife is the only person who will shoot straight with you concerning ministry all the while seeking the best for you no matter what the circumstance is. More than that, if your spouse isn’t on board, then you will inevitably put unnecessary strain on your marriage. It’s hard enough to do ministry and be married, but with all the uncertainties of church planting, a marriage can become strained in a heartbeat.
- Don’t be discouraged the week that few to no people show up. The core group for Foundation averages about 6-7 people, so if a few people are sick or out of town it seems to be like dominos and they all tumble in succession. I had this happen to me two weeks ago and if I hadn’t had my wife on board I would’ve walked away from the church. It is demoralizing for no one to show up. But my wife kept reminding me that we have done zero advertising (though we plan to soon) so the only people who know about the church are those who we tell. Believe me, you’ll live even if you miss a service/group meeting here or there—I believe it’s one way to remind me that God runs the show and not me and that my plans won’t always work.
- Don’t let the absence of a particular ministry keep you from planting. I am in absolutely no way musically inclined. As a result I never really befriended musicians. So every week we sing songs via youtube. I know that many pastors would advise against this, however, I’ve seen it work before and it’s working for us. I obviously want a live band to lead worship, but until those people show up my options are 1) play songs off of youtube or 2) run everybody off with my singing. Clearly I’m opting for youtube! But this goes for just about every ministry within the church. Just because you don’t have a leader for the kids ministry doesn’t mean you should delay planting. We have one family that has a child and they want their son in the service, but at the same time I dream of having a “state-of-the-art” children’s ministry where to remember sometimes!
- Don’t be afraid to cover the basics. My first two series have been extremely basic. We did a four-part series on “What Is The Gospel” and I’m currently in the middle of a three-part series on “Exploring The Ekklesia” (click the link to listen to sermons [shameless plug]). Both series lay the foundation for the future of the church and helps to get everybody on the same page so that we all know what we’re about and why we do thing the way we do.
- Don’t be afraid to be different. I’m not your typical “Reformed” pastor (some will hesitate to call me Reformed at all based on what I’m about to say). I hold to a tighter view than most of the Normative Principle of Worship or a looser view than most of the Regulative Principle of Worship, depending on how you want to look at it. When I preached my “senior sermon” entitled “A Modern Day Prodigal Son” I played Brantley Gilbert’s song, by the same name, in order to give the audience something to attach the sermon to. During our current series on the church I’m beginning the sermon by playing “My Church” (you know, the Maren Morris song that plays constantly on the radio). I want to do everything that I possibly can in order to help people understand better, and remember longer, the Scriptures—and sometimes that means being creative, even if others think you’re pushing the limits.
I’ve learned a lot more than just five lessons, but these five lessons I believe are the most impactful lessons I’ve learned yet. Church planting is everything I ever dreamed it would be, and I want to be of help to anyone considering doing or currently doing the hard work of church planting. I’d love to help you however I can, please feel free to reach out to me!