On February 1, I moved my family to San Jose to start Garden City Church. The day we moved we had three adults committed to the church plant. It was a move of faith.
After getting settled, the first thing I did was hold an informational meeting about the church plant. I hoped 20 people would show up. Sixty-one people attended the meeting. The turnout was comprised almost entirely of Christians from a variety of other churches in the area, the vast majority of whom had never been involved with a church plant.
After speaking for about an hour on the vision of Garden City Church, I shared this top 10 list. I spent 10 minutes sharing and unpacking this list I’d created in order to de-romanticize church planting for all the Christians in the room. As people were growing excited about the possibility of joining our church planting team, I wanted them to have a realistic picture of the difficulty of church planting, to be aware of some of the wrong reasons why people join a church plant, and to take an honest assessment of their own expectations and motives in considering joining the team.
Coming up with and sharing this list has proved very helpful for me, for the people who have decided to join me, and for the people who have decided not to join our team.
1. If you’re looking for the next cool thing in town (we want to grow by conversion growth, not church-goer transfer growth).
2. If you’re a Christian and you don’t like your current church (you will find reasons to not like this church).
3. If you have a bad track record at churches of being unteachable and causing problems (you won’t change here, you’ll repeat the pattern).
4. If you’re a consumer wanting to “go to church” one time a week for a nice show (we are not a Sunday show, we are a community of disciples on a mission).
5. If you want religion (this church will be built on the radical gospel of grace).
6. If you have an agenda (we have our vision, our mission and our values–your private agenda does not supercede them).
7. If you’re a wolf (we will sniff you out).
8. If you think this will be a nice little church that stays the same size, where everybody knows your name and you have my cell number on speed dial and we have a picnic lunch together every week (by God’s grace, we want to grow).
9. If you think this will be easy and smooth (this will be hard and difficult; this will be a fight, a battle, a challenging mission).
10. If you want to hold onto your comfortable life (you must lose your life).
I also shared a quote from Ernest Shakelton, from the advertisement he used when recruiting men for his expedition to Antarctica in 1914:
Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful, honor and recognition in case of success.