Church Planting: It Will Be Harder Than You Think

Dustin Neeley shares how a church leader must be able to balance between the vision of the church they hope for and the church they will actually plant.

For most of us, the church-planting process brings two churches into our lives:

1. The church we think we are going to plant.
2. The church that actually gets planted.

It is the men who are able to successfully navigate the distance between these two churches that are still standing after the first few years.

There are a number of reasons for this:

First, the ground is often much harder and the work goes much slower than we expected it would.

For most church planters, the days of sending out a mailer and seeing 350 people at your launch are long gone. And though the conference circuit may tempt us to believe otherwise, exponential growth is the exception, not the rule.

Second, we recognize quickly that working with actual people in the real world is much messier than working with ethereal concepts at our coffeeshop office.

Seasoned planters have plenty of stories of leaders who tapped out, and landlords who kicked them out to go with the scars they earned in living those stories. Such is the nature of ministry in a fallen world.

Third, we come to terms with the harsh reality the strategic plan that seemed so perfect in our minds isn’t so perfect on the field.

It is all too common for planters to underestimate the nuances of their context and overestimate their own abilities requiring some significant, unexpected changes to be made. It is the wise planter who figures these out quickly and responds accordingly.

You may be thinking, “So if it is as hard as I make it sound, how is it that any planter succeeds?

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Dustin Neeley
Dustin Neeley is the Planter and Lead Pastor of Crossing Church in Louisville, KY, an Acts 29 Church, which in only four years has helped plant 4 other churches and has 4 more in the queue. Dustin also has an M.Div from Southern Seminary and has recently launched a new ministry called Church Planting for the Rest of Us.