It’s true. Church planting is tough. An uphill battle the whole way. Tension builds naturally being bi-vocational, having limited resources, and persistent people problems. If it’s not one thing it’s another: Divorce, an unexpected death, parenting problems, differences of opinion, gossip, poor leadership, worship ministry, classes for the kids ministry, or an overall lack of volunteers, can make an optimistic outlook hard to come by.
Such an environment (unfortunately) makes it easy to preach more out of fear and frustration than grace and the guidance of His Spirit. This causes collateral damage – like the boy who cared too much for his eggs, strengthening his grip, he unintentionally did more harm than good.
This happens when pastors allow an unhealthy sense of responsibility. Pastors don’t grow sheep, God does. We feed and direct while waiting for God to grow them.
Andy Stanley articulated this recently saying, “Leaders are not called to ﬁll-up a follower’s cup. They’re responsible to empty theirs.”
Taking on the an unnecessary burden to grow sheep adds stress on top of stress. Like a raging volcano, it’s a burden that builds until it’s released. Having planted four years ago, I’ve dealt with all of the above and identiﬁed a problem frustrated planters face.
When frustrated, it’s easier to tell people what they’re not versus what they can be. This presents a problem for planters on multiple levels.
First, everyone already struggles with doubt and insecurity. It comes naturally. It’s not hard to believe our own negative suspicions.
Second, let’s not forget, being reminded of what we’re not is our adversary’s occupation. The name Satan actually means accuser and we’re told he constantly goes before God making accusations of our shortcomings. With God’s help, we can present the upside of what people want to be versus the downside of what they’re not.
Three ways I’ve learned to practically apply this:
- Each week, I evaluate my message: “Am I presenting the upside of what people can be, or am I reminding them of what their not?” If erring, I take the time to plead with the Holy Spirit. I ask Him for assistance to present the same truth in a more positive, powerful manner.
- Second, I’ve committed to becoming a better communicator on and off the platform. Most of a planter’s frustration is self-inﬂicted. Because when it comes to communication, it’s true, something has to be mentioned seven times until it’s heard. Studies show seven to be the magic number.
- Last but not least, when it comes to platform communication, think people not groups. I’ve made the mistake communicating my frustration and disappointment to a group when it should have been done privately with one or two people/families.
A healthy sense of responsibility and consistent, clear communication eliminates a lot of problems planters face.