I was meeting with a potential church planter and some wisdom nuggets spoken to me or learned 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. Others were learned firsthand by experience.
7 words for church planters and leaders:
Seek approval among the people to whom God sent you to minister.
All of us need assurance at times from other people what we are doing matters. Church planting is often unpopular among established churches. In a growing established church your critics will be those who resist change inside the building. Either way there will be critics.
This nugget of wisdom was spoken to me by a seasoned church planter. Most likely God didn’t call you 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 people wherever God sends you.
I just knew Cheryl and I were supposed to plant a church in New York City. It was something I wanted to do and even felt “led” to, at times. But still, there never seemed to be the peace or an opportunity to do so. While walking the streets of NYC one morning, I asked God to give me a clear heart for the people of New York if it was where He wanted us to be.
Then came one of the clearest words from God 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. I felt released from the burden and freer to serve wherever God placed us next.
Don’t ignore churched people when planting a church.
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. 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.
Your spouse may have to trust you even more.
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 often only 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 is not afraid to stir 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.
Here’s one of my wisdom nuggets I’ve learned the hard way: Don’t be afraid of those times God stirs your nest – they lead to His best for you.
Build/alter 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.
Do you have some wisdom nuggets you’ve learned in ministry leadership?