1. Above every bit of counsel, do what the Holy Spirit is calling you to do.
2. Listen to your wife. She will often be the voice of the Holy Spirit. Listening will save a lot of wear and tear on your hide. Got it? Got it!
3. Grow some thick skin even with your own people. They will offer emotional appeals to certain directions that are not in the best interests of the church. They love you but they will likely never fully trust you. Americans, especially middle class white people, have gigantic trust issues with their leaders. As usual, smile, pat them on the back but don’t agree to anything without thoroughly thinking about it. All they are really asking for is an audience, not your capitulation.
4. Build LOTS of time to hang out with your kids while they are at home. No matter how much time you spend with your kids, later you will probably wish you had spent more time with them. If you don’t spend adequate time with them you’ll later kick yourself for your failure and will resent your church. Just sayin’.
5. If you are doing something outside the box, don’t take your denomination’s response overly seriously. If that’s you, face it, chances are you will never be understood very well. In the midst of my success as a planter, like a lot of other bloggers on this site, I was more or less tolerated by the leaders of my denomination because I broke the mold of how they thought churches were supposed to be planted. Denominational leaders are linear, systems people who play by the book – the book they wrote. They don’t know how to deal with innovators who are writing new books. They will admire your success, but they won’t know what to do with your methods. It’s best to just smile and flow with them as long as is possible.
Don’t be rebellious. Relish the wisdom they offer. Most of the time they are veterans who know their chops, but realize you are the one who is on site, not them. Don’t be a knucklehead and reject their wisdom, but on the other hand, don’t be an automaton and not weigh aspects of what they recommend.
6. Take on new projects realistically with the realization that your people will initially only do what you personally lead them into. They will do what you do, not what you say. They will build into their schedule what you build into your schedule. You can delegate the leadership of important issues to others, but if you don’t participate in those vital values others won’t take those things seriously either.
7. Do outreach perpetually. Stop mere chatter about outreach. Drop all the talk about missional this and that. If you’ve been caught up reading more and more books about the “M” word, it might be time to take a break from the world of theory. Swallow hard and actually start connecting people. “But I’m not wired to do that!” That’s okay. Few church planters are. That’s okay. I’m not either, but that hasn’t stopped me for the past couple of decades.
Fire up a couple of grills. Cook up one hundred hamburgers with a small team. Get others to put the buns together and wrap each one in a silver Wendy’s wrapper. Put these in a couple of Igloo coolers then go door to door in a lower middle class area of town. Knock on each door and say, “Hi, how many would you like?” “How many what would I like?” “Burgers! We made them just for you.” As they take a couple ask, “May we pray for you for ten seconds? Anything at all…” If they have no specific requests pray for comes to you at that moment. Make it quick. The Spirit will give you a prayer. Give them your connect card (KindnessResources.com) and go onto the next door. Bam! You are started. God will grab your heart.
8. Connect with the poor on a regular basis. Buy a few bags of groceries. Don’t think too much about it or you will talk yourself out of getting started. Don’t read any books or articles. Don’t call around to any agencies. Just drive around to where people who could use some help. Knock. Ask, “Do you know anyone who could use some food?”
Pray for a few others to go with you. Your life will be revolutionized as you reach out. Your church will be set on a course of being perpetually invigorated.
9. Model honoring. As much as possible, promote people who are worthy of visibility. This is especially true at milestones and even departures. Some will leave with a little bit of heat. Even then seek to bless them with all sincerity and positive emotion as they depart. Give them a gift that is paid for in their love language.
If you sow into this you will reap great benefits and will create a culture that will change your entire church and all you do inside and out.
10. Become famous for your generosity. Set up an initial budget that gives away 15% locally to others. That is not that difficult to do in the first couple of phases of your church’s history, but will become increasingly challenging as you add staff and facilities come into the picture. Agree among yourselves as leaders that that percentage is irrevocable. Consider writing that agreement into your constitution even! It will change the destiny of your church.
11. Walk in a spirit of prayer. Depend on him for your strength. Pray with that heart. If he shows up all will be well. If he doesn’t nothing will happen.
12. Develop an Andy Griffith persona when it comes to dealing with opposition. Watch episodes of his TV show as well as the movie No Time for Sergeants to get an idea about his friendly way of diffusing challenging encounters with knuckleheads. You will cross swords with plenty of them.