7 Words of Wisdom for Church Planters – and Other Ministry Leaders

While meeting with a potential church planter some of the words of wisdom spoken to me over the years flooded my mind. I think they are valuable for all leaders, but especially my friends in ministry.

Some of these were given to me by others. Some were learned firsthand by experience.

Here are 7 words of wisdom for church planters and leaders:

Seek approval among the people to whom God sent you to minister

Obviously, we work for the approval of God, not man, but all of us need assurance at times from other people what we are doing matters. Church planting is unpopular among some established churches. There may be days when you feel like the “church’ community is working against you. When you lead an established church to grow your critics will be inside the building and those who resist change. Either way there will be critics.

A seasoned church planter gave me this advice. Most likely God didn’t call you to your assignment so you could be popular – or even to simply satisfy people who already love their church the way it is. He sent you to reach hurting, broken people – to be His witness to a dark world. My guess is those whom you are reaching are happy with your efforts.

Love God and you’ll love the people wherever God sends you

This happened to me when I just knew I was supposed to plant a church in New York City. I wanted to. I felt “led” to, at times. But, still, there wasn’t the peace or opportunity to do so. While walking the streets of NYC, I asked God to give me a clear heart for the people of New York if it was where He wanted me to be.

This line was one of the clearest words from God to me I’ve ever heard. If I truly love God, I will love the people and have a heart to make disciples among them, wherever I go. This is true in church planting and in church revitalization.

Don’t ignore churched people

When I was a new church planter, we ran from anyone who had any church affiliation. They weren’t our target. We didn’t want to offend other churches. We felt it was the “best” thing to do. In doing so, we robbed ourselves of potential leaders and kept some people from following the ministry God had laid on their heart.

The same is true in the established church. It can’t be all about the “new” people. You have to love the people who are already there. They are your best resource and partners to reach the lost and hurting. Learning to embrace them – even in the difficult days of change – is part of your Kingdom work.

Your wife may have to trust you

My wife has often known we were supposed to do something, but her heart has often been more tender when it comes to leaving the people we love. Her faith follows quickly, but her heart often lingers with the previous church.

At times, I have had to ask her to trust me, and my walk with Christ, when she can’t seem to force her heart to shift. (You actually can’t force a heart to change.) Unless she has a conviction against moving forward, if she’s willing, it is often helpful if she relies on my logic more than her emotions. Her emotional commitment always follows in time.

Peace comes through obedience

Sometimes the complete peace in a decision doesn’t come until I’ve said “Yes Lord” to what I sense He’s calling me to do. Saying yes, before I have all the assignment or all my questions are answered, seems to open the door for God to bring peace about the move. And, His blessing and glory.

God stirs the nest

Deuteronomy references God and the eagle stirring its nest. I’ve been told (and read) eagles build their nest with the roughest products they can find. Then they cover the structure with the softest, most comfortable material available. A baby eaglet never wants to leave the comfort of home, so to teach them to fly, a mother eagle stirs up the nest, uncovering the roughest part.

If things become real uncomfortable where you are it could be a God thing. He could be “stirring the nest”. Don’t be afraid of those times – they lead to His best for you.

Build DNA slowly

Once DNA is set, it’s very hard to change it. (My friends in the established church know this one well.) Secure senior leaders slowly. Add staff slowly. Add rules and structure slowly. What you repeat very many times will become tradition quickly and when you try to change it there will be resistance. Make sure it’s something you want in your DNA, before you allow it to get there.

To all my ministry leader friends – I’m pulling for you.

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • Tomer says:

    Hi what does "church people" means? (i'm not a christian but i appreciate jesus)

    • ronedmondson says:

      The church is a body of people who “appreciate Jesus” especially those who believe He is the truth, the life and the resurrection.“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and I am completing in my flesh what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for His body, that is, the church.” ‭‭Colossians‬ ‭1:24‬ ‭“So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers. Then fear came over everyone, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.” ‭‭Acts‬ ‭2:41-47‬ ‭“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭16:18‬ ‭

  • brian hofmeister says:

    Church transfers are a tough one. I've learned to speak positively about people's prior churches and backgrounds – make sure they know we don't presume to be any better. At the end of the day, we've had to be comfortable with people making their own decisions on involvement.

    We're a 15 week old plant.

  • kmac4him

    PS…. Don’t Ignore Churched People… great insight on that… always heard the other perspective and was led by leadership who believed in that perspective, but you are so right because why should we assume that God does not move people whenever and however He wants. I was on a church staff for 10 years and at the end of the 14th year, God dispersed pretty much all 35 of us, one by one sent us out to plant and grow!! What if the church leadership we were sent too ignored us?? And that is just being willing to look at wisdom from the eyes of a “planter” if you are a “waterer”, because your perspective will be different. So thanks!!

  • kmac4him

    We all have “trophies” from past ministry; it is a “heavenly hindsight” kind of thing that helps us in our present to see the faithfulness and trustworthiness of our God. But I found there is a difference between heavenly hindsight and “nostalgia”! Nostalgia can become an idol. We have to let go of the “comfortable soul nostalgia” of past things God has used us in. He says: “I am doing a new thing, will you not know it….” I can speak about this because God called me out of everything I knew about “ministry” into “online ministry”… My first thought was: “You have got to be kidding me”, that was 3 years ago. I got caught up in the nostalgia of the past and it stopped up the God Adventure of the present. I needed a clear focus to journey through the way God was pioneering online ministry. I lost that focus when I got “nostalgic” for the things of the past. It was too much of a change, I liked face-to-face ministry and I was good at it. In my nostalgia for the past, I idolized “the way it was”, so much so that my “followship” in my now took a “crooked path”! Thankfully God makes all crooked places straight and He finishes what He starts! AWE-GOD!

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