Field-Tested Advice for Church Planters

I’m always on the lookout for solid church planting wisdom to include in the Church Leader Insights Newsletter (click here for your free subscription).

I recently read just such an article from Jimmy Britt, a friend and coaching alumni.  Jimmy is the Founding and Lead Pastor of Rocky River Community Church in North Carolina and he gave me permission to re-print this article for you, so enjoy!

I was thinking today that I have not written anything in a while to the church planters who read my blog. I’m in the mood so let me just give you some stuff rapid fire style. ☺ BTW, I think this is pretty good info for church goers everywhere.

– If you can’t raise money, go do something else. You are not a church planter if you can’t raise money. Seriously. You can be on a church planting team – you may even make a great Executive Pastor, but if you can’t raise money you are NOT a church planter. I know some of you are thinking that sounds too harsh so let me tell you why this is true. If you can’t raise money it means that you can’t talk to people, sell your vision (you can’t sell what you don’t have), or people just don’t feel confident enough in you to give you their money.

Note: You need at least one or two guys (or gals) in your church that you can go to and ask for money when you really need it. God has blessed me with a couple of men who will help me when I need it. They are not “money bags.” They just have some resources and are willing to help when we’re really in need, or just have a great opportunity and no cash. These folks are as valuable to you as your worship pastor. If you don’t have these folks who can have your back financially, you should question your call as a planter. I am FULLY convinced that God puts these people in your life. Everyone doesn’t agree with me on this, but they aren’t church planters either (they just teach it in seminary). ☺

– The latest, greatest technology is NOT the most important thing about your new church plant. Seriously, I’ve gotten some great deals on projectors and other great stuff from the coolest church plants that didn’t make it.

– Effective is better than cool any day of the week.

– Everything in “traditionally modeled churches” is not all bad. Know why you do what you do.

– People want to know what is in the Bible. It’s the Bible they need. Help people understand it and apply it to their life and they will beat a path to your door. They will find you!

– If you’re lazy, go to seminary, don’t plant a church. Planting a church is NOT for lazy people.

– If your wife thinks that you and her got married just to sit on the couch and snuggle every night after dinner until time to go to bed, find something else to do. A church planting couple has to understand that they were married for the mission. You two are partners in the Kingdom first and if she doesn’t get that then your life is going to be miserable.

I’m not saying your wife is bad. I’m really not. I’m just saying that your church plant has to be her church plant too. She doesn’t have to be the pastor, but she’s got to be called to the church plant. And if she’s not, she will not give you the “kitchen pass” you need to get the flywheel of your church going. PLANTING A CHURCH IS NOT A 9-5 JOB!

– You have to know “who you are” and “Who’s you are” and “where” you intend to lead your church. There are a number of reasons why these things are important, but chief among them is this. People are going to come and go. You love to watch them come, and they rip your heart out when they leave. Well, most of them that is. You need to let some people go and if you don’t know that now, just wait. You may call them “your” people now, but one day you’ll be ready to give some of them back to God. ☺

Anyway, if you don’t know who you are, some people will do everything they can to make you into what they want you to be. If you don’t know “Who’s you are,” there will always be someone around to try and make you “theirs.” And if you don’t know where you’re headed, someone else will take the lead.

– The people you start with are not the people you’ll end up with. They won’t stay. I don’t care how much they love you right now; eventually they will realize that the church plant is not what they thought it would be. And slowly, they will remember back to the good ol’ days when they could just “go” to church, back when no one depended on them or needed them. There will be all kinds of reasons why people will leave (some of them are your fault), just trust me when I say that the people you start with will not be with you at your first year anniversary.

NOTE: December is a hard time for a lot of church planters. Here’s why. The people on your launch team probably came from another church. At Christmas time they forget about the reasons they wanted to leaver their former church and help you start a new church. Why? Because they get home sick for children’s pageants and Christmas carols. People walk away in December.

– Do the ministry (serve people) because it is the right thing to do – it is what God has called you to do, not because you’re trying to create loyalty. Some of the folks you do the most for will be the ones who will walk away from you. Yep, after ten years it still hurts me. It will hurt you. But it is something you have to get used to.

– Build disciples. Build disciples. Build disciples. If you’ll do this even half-butted, it will payoff BIG TIME. These are the folks who will help you grow a church because they will reach other people. They will also be the people who you can count on when things get tough. And things WILL get tough!

– LOVE PEOPLE! Do life with people and enjoy them. Let them enjoy you. Don’t try and create a “safe” distance between you and your people. There’s no such thing. If there is, you’re not doing your job.

– Being a jackass is not a requirement for being a good planter/pastor. You only have to look at Rick Warren to know that. He’s absolutely one of the most inviting, hospitable, personable guys I’ve ever known. He’s also planted a pretty successful church – Saddleback Church.

– Youth Pastors who start a new church just because they’re pissed-off at their senior pastor are usually terrible church planters. It’s not as easy sitting in the front seat as you might think.

– When you are putting together a team of people to help you lead the church, remember that chemistry matters. The guy with the most talent may not be the best hire. Let me say that again. THE GUY WITH THE MOST TALENT IS NOT ALWAYS THE BEST HIRE!

– Get you “some” mentors. Yes, I mean more than one. And choose guys who have been there and done that, usually NOT a seminary professor or a kid straight out of college or seminary. Why? Because they think they know everything!

– Remember that you have the greatest, coolest, most rewarding job on the planet! Don’t take it for granted.

Thanks for the great advice Jimmy!

P.S. If you’re pursuing God’s call to plant a church, check out The Launch Conference on CD.

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About Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is an experienced church growth strategist, pastor, church planter and coach, consulting with churches around the world. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has personally trained more than 3,500 church leaders in over 45 denominations through live events, seminars and monthly coaching. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in Boca Raton, FL. Nelson and his church routinely appear on lists such as “The 50 Most Influential Churches” and “The 25 Most Innovative Leaders.” He is the author of over 100 church growth resources and 18+ books, including The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life, Ministry and The Difference Maker: Using Your Everyday Life for Eternal Impact, and At the Cross with the People Who Were There. He and his wife, Kelley, have one son, Alexander.

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