This is a guest post by Jeff Brewer, lead pastor of Hope Fellowship in Lombard, IL (Acts 29). Hope is the most recent church plant of College Church. Jeff also wrote “10 Things to Remember After a Missions Trip” for The Resurgence blog. You can follow him on Twitter.
With so many tasks to be completed in the planting of a church, to not be productive as a church planter is to suffer a quick death. But how does one effectively manage his time as a church planter when the pace of work is sporadic?
This goal is easily shrouded in the fog a schedule that lacks routine. The planter often wonders (on even his most productive days) if the work he is doing is actually accomplishing anything toward planting the church.
To answer these questions let’s consider five enemies of productivity for the church planter.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that in the first year of our church every good thing that advanced the work of God noticeably in our community came not by my effort or even careful planning (which is still highly recommended).
They came through God working powerfully in his timing and his way. By far prayerless self-sufficiency is the greatest enemy to productivity as a church planter. Pastoral ministry is too big to accomplish anything on our own, and church planting can sometimes feel like pastoral ministry on steroids. A church planter’s constant encouragement should be Spirit-led communion with the Father and a reliance upon the power of God to plant the church.
2. Assuming you will remember everything
Every church planter and pastor is hindered by only having so much memory bandwidth. In order to accommodate this sad lack of ability to remember the ever increasing lists of names, places, tasks and events there is a need for a system to collect and organize this variety of tasks. Make a system and follow it.
3. Thinking, “I could do more if I only had ____________.”
Our church would have been served well to have an auditorium with nice seats and a built-in sound system when we first planted, but that’s not what we had.
Not even close.
Instead, we had a community building with low ceilings that looked more like a hospital with the florescent lights and white walls. 75 feet of pipe and drape later we had ourselves a worship space that wasn’t blinding.
Sit down in a room of experienced church planters and you will learn that we are a scrappy lot who improvise with what we do have (or can get easily), not what we wish we had.
4. Neglecting to develop other leaders
I think the guy who first said, “you can’t squeeze blood from a turnip” was involved in church planting. It seems so strange when the planter has so few people in the congregation on a Sunday, and even fewer potential leaders, to think that leaders will ever develop.
It’s not cheating to pray for mature believers to join the work to add stability and maturity to the body while you help to develop new believers into mature leaders.
5. Trying to do it all yourself
The church planter is the “Jack-of-all-trades” of the pastoral world. But it is unproductive for the church plant pastor to be a multi-position player on the team because he won’t equip the saints in his congregation to join the mission.
While it is essential to the initial planting of the church is that they are competent in a wide range of tasks (from the font on the bulletin to what food will be served at an informational gathering) it is important to figure out which parts need to be played by the planter and which ones can be passed off to others.
Every church planter steers the church plant bus, especially during the critical first few years. But the planter also would do well to quickly master the art of intentional equipping of the saints to do the work that it will take to plant the church.