There are some bad reasons to plant a church.
Please understand, I love church planting. When I moved back into church revitalization, part of the concern I had was I might not have a foot into church planting. That would be tough for me. After two successful plants and having worked with literally hundreds of planters, I think it’s in my blood. (Interestingly, my mom served on the core of a church plant before she married my dad.)
Thankfully, I still have lots of avenues to be a part of church planting from an established church. I’m still involved with Exponential. Our church plants churches. And planters still ask for my help on a regular basis.
But for years I’ve been concerned about one thing I see in the church planting movement.
I seem to find some planters – or want-to-be planters – who plant a church for some bad reasons. The fact is we need people called to ministry in the established church. We need them in church revitalization. Not everyone needs to be a church planter.
And the bigger issue is without the right reasons, if we are not careful, a church plant could become just a part of a growing fad and no ultimate good will come from it. People will waste valuable time, energy and resources when they simply were never called to plant. That’s not good for the planter or the Kingdom.
So, we must be careful to plant for the right reason. And, equally importantly, to not plant for the wrong reasons.
Let me give some examples of bad reasons to plant a church. There are surely others.
Here are 5 bad reasons to plant a church:
You’re running from authority.
I’ve worked with some people who didn’t want to follow the rules. In fact, I am that person sometimes. While this may be a good mindset for an entrepreneurial type, and church planters certainly are, it is not a good reason to start a church. When this is the reason it is often out of pride and arrogance. God can never honor that.
You’ll have authority in a church plant – or at least you should. One of the quickest ways to burnout and flame out is to refuse it. If you’re smart you’ll give away authority and not be a power-broker. All of us need some authority and accountability in our lives.
You want to do things your way.
I understand. Really. Especially if you worked for a controlling leader or for someone who had no passion or vision. You have energy and momentum around a dream and need to explore it. I get it. Bravo! I applaud seeking after something which grabs your heart.
But be careful. Sometimes a desire birthed in good can quickly become something birthed in rebellion. And pride can quickly take over your heart. Plus, when this happens, many times you close yourself to ideas other than your own. You then become the controlling leader you resented. And you will limit the vision you are seeking to you. You limit what you control.
Make sure you’re not planting just so you can exclusively do things YOUR way.
You want to be close to momma.
Or momma-in-law. This one sometimes hits too close to home. And I get this one too. You love your family. There is free babysitting. Loving a family is a good thing.
But our callings are bigger than the comfort of home – or the cool city where we can find the best coffee shops. Sometimes God gives us huge latitude in location, but sometimes He does not.
Certainly we need planters all over the place. And home may be exactly where God wants you to plant. (I planted a church in my home town. Some questioned it, but I knew it was what I was called to do. The proof is in the results over 15 years later.) God may allow you to plant exactly where you “want” to plant. I hope He does.
Sometimes, however, God’s plan sends us where we don’t necessarily want to go. He often calls us to leave our comfort zone. Make sure in whatever you do the decision is always His – and not yours alone.
Your friends are doing it.
It’s popular to plant a church these days. As I said, I still attend church planting conferences. We need lots of new churches. Tons. And the church planting movement attracts a lot of people.
So, if you have friends in ministry, some of your friends may be desiring to plant a church. It seems to be the buzz these days.
It’s just never a good reason to plant a church because everyone else is doing it. It needs to be your calling – not anyone else’s.
You’ve got the cool factor.
I meet some really cool people planting churches. I needed to clarify this because I was almost 40 when I planted a church the first time and I had long passed the day I could wear skinny jeans.
Church plants – anything new – attracts cool. (It’s funny, when I attend church planting conferences there are lots of similar looks. Styles change but church planters keep up with the styles.)
But cool does not make a good church planter. I should be honest, it doesn’t hurt. Boring is boring. But it isn’t a reason to plant a church. And the fact is we need cool people in the established church also. Church revitalization needs cool too – perhaps even more.
So why plant a church?
There is really only one reason to plant a church.