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I’ve written an article about how to plant churches.

This article is about the pit-falls which can endanger your new church plant.  It’s not meant to be a negative article.  It’s meant to bring about awareness of the realities of church planting, and how to avoid them.

It’s meant to give you hope as you face all kinds of problems as a church planter.

Be ready to adapt and innovate as you work.  And don’t fall into the traps listed below:

1. Do NOT create an Inward-Focused Culture

church planter community plantYes, you have to establish the people who are with you on the journey.  And yes, you must build a strong community within your church.

But if you only build a culture which builds itself up, then you’re missing the point of the church.  The Great Commission says to “go and make disciples”.  So spend your time going into the community, meeting people, and sharing the greatest news the world has ever known – the gospel.

On top of that, your church should be focused on doing good works in the community, as we seek to love our neighbors, per the Great Commandment.

2. Do NOT be an Inward-Focused Leader

I recently invited a new church planter in my area out to coffee.  I just wanted to get to know him, welcome him, see what he’s doing.

His response was that he only had time for the community he is building.

Come on, man!  We’re supposed to be working as a team as ministers of the gospel.  You won’t even meet with me to say hi?

To be fair, maybe he was being cautious because he doesn’t know me.  Maybe he thought I was going to try and sneak in bad doctrine or try and envelope his ministries.

But he will never know because he didn’t even talk to me (For the record, I wasn’t trying to do either of those things.  It really was a no-strings-attached kind of meeting I had in mind).

If you only focus on your church, and ignore (or even push away) other leaders in your city.  You’ll find yourself without resources, without friends, without support, and without helpful insight.

3. Do NOT be the Only Leader

church planter leader dictator tyrannyAll the best cults are started when one guy has supreme authority.

Do I even need to say it?  Don’t be that guy.

Yes, for a time, you might be the only one with maturity in your faith because you have done a great job of evangelizing and making new disciples.  So for a while, you might be the only leader.

That’s fine.

But if you don’t have a strategy to build up new leaders to help with the work and to help temper you when tough decisions need to be made, then you’ll end up with a dictatorship.

And probably some tyranny mixed in there, as well.

Plus, as a church planter, if you are made like Paul, then you really should be following his example of putting leaders in place as quickly as possible and moving on to plant another church.  For more info on this, check out this article.

4. Do NOT Be Leaderless

The church isn’t a democracy.  When the new believers who are still wrapped up in sexual sin, addiction, greed, and ignorance of the Scriptures have the same authority as mature believers, then you’ve got a problem.

Yes, America is great because America is a democracy.  But that doesn’t mean all the principles transfer over to the church.

And I get it.  You don’t want to be the tyrannous dictator described in the above section.

But don’t go too far the other way and take away your God-given authority to tell people, “This is what the Scriptures say, so that is exactly what we’re going to do.”

Show #love and #patience to those who might not deserve it. Click To Tweet

5. Do NOT Make Moving into a Building Your Top Priority

church planter plant buildingOkay, you’ve got this really great, new congregation.  You’re meeting in your living room at this time because your group is so small.

Time to get a building, right?

Wrong.

Moving into a building will cost a great deal of money.  Possibly, money you don’t have.  Don’t go into great debt to obtain a building because, at the very least, it will put a very serious financial strain on the people in your church who are giving.

And if you do have money because maybe you’ve raised it or your sending church has given you a large budget, that still doesn’t mean a building is the right answer.

Use that large budget to serve people and meet urgent needs in your community.  Don’t blow it all on candy.

Many church planters believe that if you want to be an established church, you’ve got to have a building.

But the New Testament says that if you want to be an established church, you’ve got to:

  • Live a new life with God’s values, not the world’s
  • Build strong households
  • Function as a family with love and commitment
  • Use the spiritual gifts which God has given your people
  • Have mature leadership in place who care for the church and oversee it
  • Have the right relationship with the government, submitting to it, and being good citizens
  • Build an upstanding reputation in the community for good works and compassion
  • Share the gospel with your community
  • Plant more churches
  • Fight the good fight against the Evil One

“Have a building” is not on the list.

Use a large budget to meet urgent needs in your #community. Don't blow it all on candy. Click To Tweet

6. Do NOT Avoid True Shepherding

Your people need you to teach the Scriptures AND to help them live it out.

A sermon is not enough.  A lively group discussion is not enough.

You’ve got work with them on problems they face.  Check out this article for a deeper look into this idea.

7. Do NOT Expect to Be a Full-Time Minister Forever

church planter bivocational work businessPaul himself was not always a full-time minister.

He was sometimes.  But other times, he was a tent-maker.

For us today, sometimes you’ll get to work 40 hours for your church.  Maybe you’ve raised support.  But don’t let that be your only option.

Sometimes, you’ll have to pick up part-time or contract work.  Other times, you might actually have to work full-time outside the church.

Be okay with that, so you can best serve your church.  Paul, at at least one time, actually refused to receive support from the church just to prove a point!

8. Do NOT Only Reach Out to Your Socio-Economic Class

I know how easy it can be to relate only to people who are like you.

But James told us not to show partiality.

Love those who are not like you.

If you are part of rich, white, America, don’t look down on poorer people or minorities.  Don’t ignore them.  Love all those who are in your community.  Offer them the gospel the same.

If you are a minority, show love and patience to those who might not deserve it.

If you are in a low socio-economic class, don’t show spite to those who have more.  It is your duty to love them, too, even if they do not show love to you.

Check out this article for more about multi-ethnic churches.

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