Political journalist Norman Cousins once stated, “History is a vast early warning system.” That principle can easily apply to church planting.
Valuable lessons can be learned from those who have come before us. After spending years as a missiologist and church planter, I’ve thought a lot about mistakes. Why? Well, I want to avoid them — and I want you to avoid them. I share them in hopes that current and future church planters can take advantage of a vast early warning system.
If you are not a church planter, please don’t simply stop reading and move on. I have a sneaking suspicion that these three principles can apply to almost any person in church leadership.
1. Planting for the Wrong Reasons
Planters need to take an honest look at what is fueling their desire to plant a church. Church planting is a great thing, but it can definitely be done for the wrong reasons. Do you want to start a new church because of some unresolved issues with a former church? Are you trying to prove something? Do you hope to become the next platform celebrity? These are all motivations that should be treated with great caution. They are not valid reasons to plant a church.
2. Planters Who are Not Teachable
Church planters tend to be self-starters, entrepreneurs and mavericks — characteristics essential to successfully launching and establishing a new church. However, they can sabotage the long-term health of a new church. Planters are normally nonconforming and don’t listen or take direction well.
A Spirit-filled church planter walks in humility before God. A humble disposition is much more powerful than the entrepreneurial “I know what I’m doing” church planter. Church planting is bound to break you. It is better to be broken before the Lord before you start planting the church. Receive the wisdom and counsel of others ahead of time. It’s a lot smarter than making the same mistakes that someone else made.