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How Church People can Wreck a Church Plant

spiritual growth

New churches reach new people, right? That’s the prevailing thought. Unfortunately, the prevailing thought doesn’t always prevail. I’ve talked to plenty of church planters who were excited to plant and reach new people in a new community only to open their doors and find their new church flooded with disgruntled church people who left their old church hoping that this new church would be more of what they want and meet their needs better.

There’s a lot wrong with that picture, and it would take a much higher word count than I have to use in this short blog post to fully unpack. Perhaps the biggest hurdle to overcome in that scenario (which is super common by the way) is that all of those people coming from other churches are coming with their own agenda and expectations of what they want from you.

So, what do you do when your new church plant is flooded with disgruntled church people from other churches that hope you’re going to be the perfect new church for them (by the way some people make a career out of that…it’s called church hopping)?

Be Clear about the Vision

Vision both attracts and repels at the same time. The clearer you can be with unique vision that God has given you, the more likely it is that the right people will stay, and the right people will go. Don’t be naïve, there are, “the right people,” for both of those options. They key is consistently and creatively weaving your vision into everything you do so people are confronted with it early and often. The earlier they opt in or opt out the better off you will be and the better off they will be. If your vision is to build a church of disgruntled church folks and try to make them happy, then by all means embrace them (and let me be the first one to say good luck). But if the vision is to reach people who are unfamiliar with Jesus with the Gospel, then let them go, and let them go quickly.

Be Courageous

Courage is the prerequisite for Biblical leadership. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to say yes to following Jesus and lead other people to go there with you. Humility is the other side of that coin by the way, in fact humility is courage before it’s needed. As a planter you’re going to need a significant amount of courage to lead yourself and others somewhere you’ve never been. It takes courage to say no to people when everyone thinks they know what the next best step for the church is or the next great ministry you should start. Especially when fear wells up in you that people may leave if you don’t appease them. It will require courage to say no to good opportunities in order to say yes to the best opportunities and it will require courage to say no to short cuts that may get you somewhere quickly but erode your leadership in the long run.

Be Slow to Appoint Leadership

Go slow, go slow, go slow, go slow. Don’t appoint a leader too quickly, especially in the early moments and years of a plant. It takes time to build culture and create owners instead of fans. The earlier you invite new people to be on a Board or prominent leadership role the more likely those people are going to come with their own agendas and have the potential to highjack the vision. You’d be wiser to invite outside trusted pastors to serve on an external board until you have time to establish the culture and develop internal board members. You’d also be wise to spend time developing a core team of people prior to launch who will serve as ministry volunteers and leaders.


Posted in Leadership

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