Check out Part one of John’s Interview – he talks about why he is still pursuing theological education and how theological education has helped him as a church planter
3.) What are the biggest challenges for church planters in the planning, 1 year, 2 year phases of church planting?
There are some similar struggles for most all planters, and then there are some unique struggles depending on each planter. The biggest ones are the most obvious ones.
One of the most difficult things for me was learning to balance my family life with church planting. For most planters, at first, we work out of our home, so there is no “structure” to when you’re at work or when you’re home. The both just happen together during the day. I had spent all of my working life previous in offices. So this was difficult to figure out. On top of that, we have 4 young children who don’t understand that daddy may be home, but he’s working. In the beginning of a church plant there is so much to do, it is also quite a challenge not to work late into the nights and not pour into your wife.
Since church planting is essentially starting something from nothing, there is a sense in which having some entrepreneurial skills is needed. In the Acts 29 assessment, I scored just average in this. I’m willing to take risks, but I am slow in doing so. (Deciding to plant took me over two years!) In church planting, risk will come, and knowing how to be an “entrepreneur” and to know how to build is needed. This was a challenge for me. (And of course, God is the one Who builds not us. I’m speaking on the side where we must work too)
It’s inevitable. Other church plants around you will be more “successful” than you are. They will grow faster, have better websites, serve more often, do more mission trips, and the pastor will be a better speaker than you. This is just reality. As pastors, we must deal with this early, often and beg God to put it to death. Its tough to hear people tell you they want to go to the bigger church with more families or programs, but in the end, its better, because they were consumers wanting to consume and not missionaries wanting to reach the lost. But still, in the beginning when you just need some people, it’s difficult to not be envious.
People to get vs. people here now
At first, this doesn’t sound like a challenge. However, as a church planter, where “building” is constantly on my mind, I found it very difficult to keep an appropriate balance between trying to reach the people that aren’t at Remedy yet vs. serving and ministering to the people that are already at Remedy who need their pastor. I definitely lost some people in the beginning stages because a lack of balance in this. This is not easy at all (for me). I seem to constantly (at least now in the early stages) keep concentrating on reaching more and more people. If I’m not careful, instead of loving and serving the people who are with me now as brothers and sisters in Christ, I can just view them as the people who are to help me grow the church. Clearly, this is not loving. So it’s a constant battle in which I plead with Christ to give me His heart for His people and His heart for those who do not know Him yet; and to find the balance.
Pride & Leadership
Lastly, the greatest challenge has just been ME. I become increasingly aware everyday that the greatest obstacle in the church everyday is me. For me, this comes in the form of pride and leadership. I must work everyday to mortify my pride by the Spirit. Secondly, I see very often that a great challenge for me is leadership. I have so far to go to learn how to lead people. I spend as much time as I can around godly men who can lead well, ask questions, and pray for God to give me abilities in leadership that I simply do not have now. This has been a tremendous challenge.
The final part of this interview will deal with why John is A29 and SBC, as well as the role of preaching in Church Planting