One of the analogies I keep hearing around church starting is that you are flying a plane and trying to build it at the same time. After nearly three years in the fray at Forum Church, I couldn’t agree more. Here’s three things to think about as God calls you to the church starting process:
1. Just because you’ve worked at an established church, doesn’t mean all of your experiences and skills translate.
If you thrive in the established church, and you’re feeling a call to lead a church plant or start, tread slowly. It’s one thing to know how to mow a lawn, and it’s entirely another thing to know how to build a lawnmower. One of the quickest paths that lead to leader burnout is when a leader or core group member comes into the church start process expecting to run a finished product, when in reality they are tasked with leading the ministry and building it. Often times, I have failed my own people by not clearly outlining the task at hand. I’ve been entrenched in the church planting world for nearly five years now, and I keep forgetting that folks who have only ever served in one specific context have their expectations and thoughts centered on a different model and way of church.
2. If you are the Lead Pastor, you are also the treasurer, lead sound guy, head of setup, community group leader, missions pastor, greeter, etc…at least at first.
I started Forum Church with having this false idea in my head: I was there to pastor and preach. And while I definitely do those things, I’m also the go to de facto lead of everything ministry in the church, all of the time. It’s an overwhelming burden. It weighs pastors down, crushing them in a crippling sort of anxiety that makes you feel like the world depends on you.
Early in my church experience, I was struggling with this burden when one of my mentors reminded me of 1 Corinthians 3:7, “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” *church starter exhales*
God grows the church, not the lead pastor, not the core team, not the attendees or members. And though we can rest easy knowing that God leads your church. There is still a ton of work, and as the lead pastor, you are the one who oversees it all. You are pilot and lead mechanical engineer.
3. You Carry the Vision and the Plan
Leaders are tasked with seeing the plane before it’s finished. They need to know what it looks inside and out, how it flies, what sort of fuel it needs, who its workers are, and where this plane is going. People will often look to the lead for the flowery vision, but all of your people need to know and see it, even if they can only catch glimpses of the big picture inside your head. Additionally, the pastor is the lead strategist, and those strategies don’t revolve around maintaining established church ministries. Rather, the lead pastor and core group are ministry creators. You and your team create ministry and then are tasked with maintaining it.
The work of church starting is difficult, but remember: God is not your co-pilot. You are God’s co-pilot. God called you to this work, but it’s up to you and your sending church to make sure that you’re equipped for the work at hand. Do everything intentionally: lead intentionally, love intentionally, and pray without ceasing.