Planting a church is a difficult task.
Ask any church planter, and he will tell you. I can also attest to this fact from my own journey in planting, as well as from my experience serving and coaching church planters for years. Even though survival rates have improved in recent days, successfully planting a church remains one of the most daunting aspects of modern ministry.
While there is certainly no “one size fits all, sure-fire way” to ensure that you will succeed as a church planter, I can share with you the following three things that will ensure failure.
1. Plant a church that is all about you.
This can take a variety of shapes. It could be that you begin planting a church to “prove something” to yourself or some other group of people. It could also be simply to provide an outlet for an underutilized preaching gift or to “right the wrongs” of a previous ministry.
While each of these scenarios reveals pain that needs spiritual attention, none of them provide a sound reason for starting a new work. If one of these reasons is your “calling to plant,” turn back before somebody gets hurt.
2. Think that you don’t need a team.
There’s a reason why Jesus sent His followers out “two by two” to carry on His movement (Luke 10:1). Teams provide the needed support, accountability, and help that is needed in any successful ministry endeavor.
Sadly, not all church planters seem to have gotten this memo, and seek to “go it alone.” If you do, odds are, you may become a statistic. You need to call other qualified men around you to help pull the plow. Pray that God will send you some even before you set out to plant.
3. Assume that spiritual warfare only happens overseas.
My family and I experienced more spiritual and practical opposition within the first couple of years of our church plant than we had in our entire history together. From sickness to financial hardship to getting kicked out of our location, we saw our fair share of spiritual warfare right here in the Southern United States. My expectation is that you will as well. Be prepared, and persevere.
Successfully planting a church is hard, hard work. But it is good work. It is work worth doing.
Will you have the humility to avoid these pitfalls?
Remember Psalm 127:1, “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.”
May God give us all the grace we need to plant and pastor churches that prevail for His glory and the good of our cities.