In 2003, we planted a church. In 2004, we closed the doors. Here are 10 things I would have done differently as a church planter.
1. I would have taken a more rigorous church planter assessment.
I often joke that if someone would have just looked at my checkbook they would have stopped me from my attempt to plant a church. I’m sure other indicators would have surfaced as well, but a good assessment would have either helped delay us until we were really prepared or prevented us from doing one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
2. I would have been more patient and processed more with my senior pastor.
I guess looking back, I laugh a lot because I joke about this with my lifelong pastor and friend, Greg Simas, “Why didn’t you stop me?” I would have taken more time to ask him more questions like:
a. Do you think I’m ready?
b. How hard has it been for you to plant?
c. Is the timing right?
d. Where should I plant?
e. Can the church send us?
My impatience of feeling like I was done with youth ministry only gave me a couple of options, and since I felt that God gave me a desire to plant a church, that’s what I pursued.
3. I would not have planted with the denomination I was affiliated with.
In 2002, the denomination we were associated with had not developed a proven church planting strategy. We received what I call a “pentecostal pat on the back” and their blessing, which at the time was all I thought I needed. A church planter needs more than required approval. They need real assistance. I would have sought out a church planting organization or movement that was better equipped to equip me and had the vision and knowledge on how to plant a church successfully.
4. I would have spent a year on just getting supporters and raising support.
I would have focused more time on learning how to raise funds and would have had definite goals in place of how many supporters I needed to fund the plant so that I could give my undivided attention to the work. As you may know, a church planter that has to work an additional job is less likely to get the church established. At one time, I was working three jobs!
5. I would have gathered a much larger team with closer friends.
I think in order to gather a team, you have to have to things working for you. Your timing has to be right and your location needs to be strategic. I think I missed the best timing when we didn’t plant after being nine years at a church we loved and what was ultimately our first ministry transition in 1998. Because of missing the timing, I think we missed the best opportunity to gather a team with our closest friends that would have followed our lead.