A church planter’s guide to disaster

If you were going to set out to create a miserable church planting crash what would you do?

I know, it’s a weird question. Stay with me. There’s always been a lot of talk about what church planters need to do to “make it”, but it’s equally as valuable to discuss what NOT to do. So, here are your top five things to do if you want a church plant to implode…

Listen to too many voices. I see a lot of planters reading every book, listening to every piece of advice and trying to create a model that incorporates everything they like about all of those. This kind of patchwork church is impossible. It will have no authenticity, and you’ll confuse your people. Yes, you need to be humble and seek counsel, but you simply can’t implement everything you admire in other churches into yours. I call this “The Twitterverse Church” because ideas, programs and vision feel like you’re scrolling through a Twitter feed.


Get obsessed with a model. Don’t create an idolatry to model. Every church needs a model, but getting obsessed with it can be deadly. A church is an organism made of people. Anything living changes, morphs and grows. Movements of God (and the models we shape out of them) are dynamic and change over time. This is why I’m a huge believer in building off timeless principles. We ride waves of the Holy Sprit for seasons. Get obsessed with your model and you’ll limit your future growth and health. I call this “The Slow Fade Church”, because it will work for a while…until it doesn’t.


Chase impact. If you chase more impact at all costs eventually a gap will form between your capacity and your character. If you’re always looking to reach max impact you’ll hit a wall. You won’t find time for vacations, sabbath, meaningful friendships, physical health and time being shaped by God. A personal crash will implode the church. I call this “The Sprint Church”, because that pace simply can’t be maintained in the marathon of ministry.


Lose focus on your teams. Your first team is your family. They need need you, and you have a commitment to love them and shape them. This will create drift and tension after a while in the planter’s family. It will hollow you and your church out like nothing else. Your spouse will resent the church and you’ll feel guilty about investing time in the church. You need to build ministry teams that are bigger than you and your abilities where you empower leaders to lead without you there. I call this “The Squishy Core Church”, because the plant will lose strength from the core and not be able to take on any more mass.


Stake your identity on church planting. If you begin to stake your identity on being a church planter over being a child of God and follower of Jesus you’re headed for disaster. Your goal isn’t to look, act and behave more like a church planter but to look, act and behave more like Jesus. I call this “The Heart Attack Church”, because the heart of the church simply stops beating at some point and the church can’t continue.


Which one of these are you most susceptible to? Spend some time examining your heart and your church and make some adjustments. Take your next right step so you don’t become another statistic.

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