Having been a church planter twice, I understand the unique challenges facing planters. They are constantly struggling with leadership issues, finances and simply knowing what to do next. I’d love to offer a word of encouragement for church planters.Recently I had a conversation with a church planter friend in Chicago. He’s in hard soil to plant anyway, but mentioned that the pandemic has been especially hard on church planters. As a result, many of his fellow planters are flaming out as a result of the pressure from lack of funds, finding a place to meet, and having less fellowship.
My heart resonated with him as we spoke. Most of what I know in leadership has come from experience and the wisdom of others. I was blessed to lead a church during the pandemic, but it was indeed challenging.
5 words of encouragement for church planters:
Surround yourself with a few encouragers.
First, make sure you have people who regularly speak into your life. People outside the work you’re doing. Some days they’ll keep you going.
This friend mentioned that prior to the pandemic, there was a more focused effort by others to bring church planters together for fellowship and encouragement. That hasn’t returned. Perhaps some of us that serve in larger, established churches can come together to be this support for church planters.
Seek your affirmation among the people God sent you to minister to.
This is great advice someone gave me. The reality is you will many times feel under-appreciated. You may not feel you’re doing any good. Also, you will second-guess yourself and your calling. When this happens, get back into helping the hurting people — the work, whatever it is — God called you to. Be recharged.
Everything great usually starts with a very humble beginning.
You know this or you wouldn’t be a planter. But this is true either in your personal humility or the humble beginnings of your work. Take your pick.
We all want grand and instant success. Yet, that’s seldom the reality. Those who launch big often had enormous stories of previously being humbled. “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin.” Zechariah 4:10
The more specific you are, the more others can help.
Established churches have systems. Processes. Committees. Structure. You might even believe we have too many, and that’s why you’re planting. We have budgets that have likely been approved long in advance. Private individuals like to give to specific causes and see an immediate impact.
The more detailed you can be with what you need, the easier it is to meet the need. Also, don’t be afraid to talk about money. Everyone knows you need it. Plus, don’t be surprised if help is more readily available in other ways – such as buying you a specific piece of equipment you need rather than simply writing an undesignated check.
Protect your soul — and your family.
Finally, you have to discipline to decompress. Paraphrasing Jesus: “Come to me all who are stretched, burnt-out, weary and heavy-burdened — I will give you refreshment for your soul.” Live this truth daily. Put it as a regular practice of your life. Unfortunately, no one is going to do this for you.
God bless you, planter, leader, friend.