I love church planters, but I’m here to tell you there are 5 bad reasons to plant a church. I moved into church revitalization, and part of the concern I had in doing so was that I might not have a foot in 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, I learned a few years after my first plant that my mom served on the core of a church plant during her years before marriage. It’s truly in my blood.)
But I’m concerned.
Can I change gears in the conversation that quickly?
I seem to find some planters—or want-to-be planters—who are in it for the wrong 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.
But the bigger issue is that 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. And that’s not good for the planter or the Kingdom.
So, we must be careful to plant for the right reason. And not the wrong reasons.
Here are five 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. That’s not a good reason to start a church, however. And when that is the reason—just offering this as a heart-check—it is usually out of pride and arrogance. God can never honor that. You’ll have authority in a church plant—if you’re smart—or you’ll find yourself in deep trouble. All of us need some authority 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. But be careful. Sometimes a desire birthed in good can quickly become something birthed in rebellion. And when that happens, many times you close yourself to ideas other than your own. You then become the controlling leader.
You want to be close to mama.
Or mama-in-law. I get that too. You love your family. Free babysitting. It’s pretty common to love family, isn’t it? Don’t we all? But our callings are bigger—and stronger—than that. Sometimes God gives us huge latitude in location. And that may be exactly where you want to plant. I hope He does. Sometimes, however, He doesn’t. But the decision is always His. Never ours.
Your buddy is doing it.
It’s popular to plant a church these days. As I write this, I am at a church planting conference. There are several—actually lots—of those these days. And that’s a good thing. We need lots of new churches. Tons. It’s just not a good reason to plant a church because everyone else is doing it. It’s not.
You’ve got the cool factor.
Don’t we all? In our own context at least. I needed to clarify that because I was almost 40 when I planted my first church 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. It doesn’t hurt—I should be honest—but it isn’t a reason to plant a church.
By the way—I have to say this—church revitalization needs cool too. Don’t forget that.
So why plant a church?
There is really only one reason to plant a church.
You are fully convinced God has called you to plant a church.