Having participated in two church plants as a planter, and now working with church planters on a regular basis in a coaching capacity, I know firsthand the fears associated with planting a church. It’s a leap of faith, and one God is calling many to these days.
My theory here is that recognizing the fears and realizing their legitimacy is part of guarding our hearts against them. The fact remains that for a church plant to be successful, at least in Kingdom terms, God must provide His grace.
Here are five legitimate fears of church planters:
1. No one will show up. If we do all this work and it doesn’t work, what will we do? You’ll be thankful you were obedient to what you believe God called you to do and wait patiently for Him to provide. We had to consistently remind our core team that God was in control of numbers. Our job was to be faithful. That doesn’t mean you stop inviting people or investing in the community around you, but you trust that God will stir hearts for His work.
2. We can’t afford it. You probably can’t. There will seldom be enough money, or so it may seem at times. God calls us to big tasks. Church planting is hard and not cheap. But the Lord will provide resources for His vision. Again, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to educate people on the needs or help them understand the command, value and blessing of giving, but it does mean you trust God even when the checkbook balance is low.
It also doesn’t mean you won’t have to wait to make major purchases or there won’t be times you have to wait until “Sunday’s offering” to get paid. Our paycheck was delayed several times the first couple of years so other bills and other staff could be paid, but we were never hungry.
3. I don’t know what I’m doing. Isn’t it wonderful? It means you’re insufficient without His sufficiency. What a great place to reside! The great news is that many have gone before you. Learn from others and stay on your knees before God.
4. People will leave. True. Most core teams are cut in half in the first few years. At first, I thought we were to be the exception. We weren’t. Other people will come and never return. But some will stick. And they will have hearts for the vision. And in them, we rejoice at what God has done. We build our teams around those whom God sends to us and who remain steadfast to the journey ahead. That team may change several times the first few years.
5. We don’t have a building. No, but you probably don’t have a mortgage either. And you’re raising up an army of volunteers for set up and tear down. You are building service and sacrifice into your DNA as a church. Isn’t it wonderful! Don’t lose that atmosphere and culture of dependency, even when you have a building someday.
Final thought. These fears are legitimate, real fears. Don’t be ashamed that you have them. The key is not to live in them, but to live and walk in the faith that God will complete His plans and enable those He calls.
What other fears have you experienced in church planting?