Last night I sat on the Indian River Lagoon and did some reading. The water was beautiful and at dusk the scenery is breath taking. I know my last couple of blogs have been directed at church planters, but it is what I do :)
I am going through a book called, "Ready for Church Planting," that my friends from the Southern Baptist Convention gave me. One of the chapters was awesome. I have not heard anybody have the guts to say what this guy said. I don't have the book on me and cannot remember the writer, but I want to share some of the main thoughts of that chapter. This book is composed of different church planters who have given their lives to start movements.
Recently I had a friend tell me about a huge "church planting" convention that our denomination sent guys to. Of course... Church Planter of ABC Church in Sometown, USA, started a church and with the help of this strategy grew from 10 to 1,000 in 2 years. This planter was in the same town as a friend of mine and one of the conference leaders had the nerve to turn around and look at my friend, like, "See, if he can do it like that, you should." My friend never launched. He started with 1 other family and two single guys. He started 4 satellite Bible Colleges in the region and uses that as his income. He is running 60 people in 2 years. The church is self-sufficient and doing well.
Last night in the book, the writer talked about the difference with every church plant and church planter, even within the same city. The latest stat says that the average church plant runs an average of 44 people after their first year. Why do we promote "Joe Cool" and "Church of the Thousands" if that is not the norm? Many times church planters burn out because of these crazy expectations.
He also shared the story of a new church plant who developed relationships in the community, did service projects, had articles written about them and promoted accordingly. This core team sent out 350,000 post cards; Had the local News Team do a 6pm special on them; Major ads in all the newspapers and a family fun day on the weekend of their launch. On their launch they had...... NO VISITORS show up. That's right, none. What else could this team had done? They followed "Pastor Joe Cool's" model at "Church of the Thousands." Can you imagine the heartbreak and despair?
Starting movements are like planting seed. Jesus said, "The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed." It starts small and takes a lot of time. We can plant and water...but God makes it grow. The book of Acts says, "The Lord added to their number daily." The second greatest to ever walk the earth (Jesus being first and said this guy was second) was John the Baptist. When he was approached about ministry numbers he said, "A man can have nothing except heaven gives it to him." King Nebby in the O.T went crazy until he submitted to the fact that, "The Lord is Sovereign and gives kingdoms to those who He wants to." Take all this into perspective.
Today church planter, lift your head up and be thankful. When Jesus fed the 5,000 with two fish and 5 loaves, he first gave thanks for the little that was provided. Andrew looked at the same food and had a cynical attitude toward it.
Look at the real averages of church plants. Don't be fooled by the crazy conferences of the 1 in a million "Joe Cool" church planters. Listen, there is always a story behind how they got there and it is not all told. They paint the picture that they had nothing, well, believe me, these guys had some backing. At this same conference the "Joe Cool" church planter said, "Guys, if you don't have a couple of hundred thousand, then don't try it like this."
Be proud of your ministry and the people. Be thankful. Don't let guys who sit in headquarters of a denomination and make 3 times what you are making put unrealistic expectations on you. They may have experience, but it is not what you are going through. There are no 3 easy steps to church planting. Enjoy the journey with the people that are taking it with you.
At this point, we have not launched yet, so I don't know how this turns out for us. I am currently writing a diary about it.