When you look back on any project or endeavor, you get a better idea of what was important and what wasn’t. This same thing is true with church plants.
Looking back after planting a new church, you have a much better idea about what was worth worrying about and what wasn’t that big of a deal.
Here’s what some of our church planters shared they wish they would have known before church planting.
It’s okay if you don’t know everything. God doesn’t expect you to be an expert. He simply asks you to stay available. He will guide and direct us and make up for our shortcomings. Stay in communication with him. Put some good people around you who will speak truthfully to you. Mostly, stay available!
Vineyard Community Church
Grand Junction, CO
Hold Expectations Loosely
Most things unfold differently than you imagine. While I remain an advocate for thorough preparation through planning (the 2-year plan is essential), we’ve learned to hold our expectations loosely. Stuff happens. Things change. People mean well but can’t deliver. If you don’t embrace the notion that “the heart of man plans his way but the Lord directs his steps” you’ll be perpetually frustrated. Embrace each day as a gift.
Vineyard Church Peoria
Learn How to Eat at Home
When we first started planting we still felt a strong need to attend another Vineyard church service in order to get fed. Although it was great to have the luxury of doing this, we found we became too dependent on it. A wise man told us “learn how to eat at home”. We learned to spend more time with Jesus and get our fill from that rather than needing it from the weekend service. That time, along with having key people in our lives that would love and support us and always point us to Jesus, was much more fruitful. We celebrate our church community and enjoy coming together to worship, hear the word and serve, but in the end, it’s our personal prayer and intimate time with Jesus where we see him speak directly into our lives and where some of our biggest transformations take place. The two of us have had more vision for our church since making this a stronger practice in our lives.
Chad & Aubrey Amborn
Westside Vineyard Church
Keep a Sabbath
Planting a church can be an all-consuming task. There’s always one more meeting you can have or one more phone call to make or one more hour of sermon prep to do. If you don’t watch out you will burn out, and it can happen pretty quickly. Pick a day, yes an entire 24-hour period of time, and make it your Sabbath where you unplug from the never-ending demands of the church. A great resource for this is The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath by Mark Buchanan.
The Mission Church
Shelby Township, MI
People have lives outside of your church-planting efforts. We need to stay focused on building our churches, but we also need to take the blinders off so we can care about the lives and passions of the people around us. It’s not all about you and your church. People need to see that you can set down your own agenda and just be a good friend, neighbor, family member, soccer coach, etc.
Ask pastors who are more experienced than you what their experiences have taught them, what they’d do different, what they’d have done more of if they knew they could, what they wished someone had told them when they first started. Ask leaders who seem to be stronger in a certain area how they got that way, what training has been most beneficial, where they’ve gone to be stretched and challenged. Ask to meet with people when you need to talk, ask for an area pastor to visit your church because you want their input, and ask someone to fill your pulpit on occasion. Ask pastors for help with your board, your staff, your key leaders and volunteers. When you go to a conference, go prepared to ask questions, hunt out 4 or 5 pastors and get your answer.
Delaware City Vineyard
Learn To Handle Criticism
I think that one of the most important things a new church planter can do is learn to handle criticism early. If you don’t expect it, it has the ability to take a tremendous toll on you emotionally. Often times new church planters are blind to how critical people can be of the good work God has called you into.
Downtown Vineyard Church
Grand Junction, CO