Many of the contributors to this website along with several of our friends took a moment to ask themselves, “What surprised us about church planting? What are some of the things we wish we’d been warned about or aware of?” Below you will find some of our reflections and those of others who shared their experiences with us. We wish we had known…
That church planting could be so rewarding
You might not believe us, but…well…it really, really, really is!
That other Christian leaders would not necessarily encourage us (and might even attack us)
Many were awesome allies, but it is a harsh surprise when some attack the work of multiplication.
That it involves spiritual warfare
Some think the first plant was the hardest because they underestimated the spiritual battle they were entering. Fatigue, family conflict, illness, spiritual apathy, etc. are common experiences for church planters who enter into the front lines of this battle-ground. One church planter reports that in his second church plant, the entire church planting team (lay people and full-time workers) were required to have an accountability partner to make sure they were praying, reading Scripture, treating their family properly, remaining sexually pure, etc. The battle is intense, but God wins it if we are faithful!
That the results are God’s responsibility
One European church planting couple was discouraged as they saw their young church blossom, falter, and then risk failing. A more experienced church planter came alongside of them to remind them that churches are born and die all the time. We remain faithful, and God brings the fruit as He wishes. That couple is still planting that church, but they are being re-directed by the Spirit to a nearby town that is proving more receptive while still being within reach of contacts from the first location.
That it is tempting to stay in the first church planted
One foreign missionary reports that the temptation was strong to stay and enjoy the fruits of his labors. He loved the people in the first church he helped to plant, he loved the style of worship, he loved his role, and he enjoyed the respect and love that the congregation showed him. When God reminded him of his commitment to be an apostolic church planter and showed him a possible next area in which to plant, he wasn’t sure he was willing to move on. He had succeeded; why risk failure? He had worked hard; why not enjoy the results? He decided to move on to be involved in planting another church while supporting two additional church plants in the same area because of his commitment to God’s call on his life to plant churches and not to pastor one.
To be continued…
Do you have your own story to tell? Are there things you wish you’d known before starting your first church plant? Let us know by dropping us an email.