3. I spoke in absolutes, saying we would “always” do certain things and “never” do others.
If you want to make God laugh, tell Him about all of the things you will and won’t do, and watch over time how He will cause you to eat your words.
When we first began NewSpring, I said that I would never teach on giving because it made people uncomfortable. I said this until I actually began digging into Scripture and realized that Jesus talked about giving more than He did prayer or faith or heaven or hell. (And I also realized the only people who were really uncomfortable were the ones who were not giving.)
When we first began, I said we would not do a public invitation because they didn’t work anymore. I had a place in the program that people could check if they wanted to know more information about Christ and someone would follow up with them. But then God pressed in on me during a service to offer an invitation. I tried to explain to Him we didn’t do that, then He explained to me that it wasn’t my church. So I obeyed (reluctantly) and people responded.
After that, I began to declare that we would always do a public invitation, which, once again, was a phrase I would have to eat.
I could go on and on with this one, but the thing I would warn leaders about is this: Be very careful when making absolute statements. They probably will come back to bite you.
4. I had the “not us” mentality.
I heard a statistic when we planted NewSpring Church that within two years, 50 percent of the people who started the church would be gone.
When I heard that I said, “Not us! We’re different, we’re commited, we’re going to be the exception.”
Um … we weren’t! In fact, it didn’t take me two years to lose about 50 percent of the core team, it took about two months. The lessons I learned in those days were hard but real:
- You will lose people.
- Whenever you call for sacrifice, you will lose people (see John 6).
- Whenever the church grows, you will lose people.
- Whenever the church makes a major move, you will lose people.
- Whenever things seem to be going well, you will lose people.
I hate it, but it’s true. There isn’t a ministry on the planet that hasn’t had to deal with the painful reality that people leave, even when you feel like you are being completely obedient to God and doing what He says. (I actually heard someone say once, “If people aren’t leaving, then you are not leading!” That statement is painfully true!)