“Yeah, the weirdest thing. Everything seemed to be going well, at least it looked that way on the surface to us. We went away on a much-needed vacation. When we returned, the two leaders of a committee announced they decided I wasn’t the guy who could take things forward. They were going to look for another pastor who was able to lead that church.”
“When we asked what sort of leader they thought we needed, they only said, ‘We aren’t sure yet. We just know it isn’t you.’”
By all measurements that church was going gung-ho.
The pastor planted it from scratch.
In just a couple of years, it had grown dynamically to several hundred people, which was especially unusual in that neck of the woods.
No matter what stage your church plant is at, be it:
– planning things out
– just getting out of the starting gates
– maybe going full speed going down the tracks
Committees can be helpful or deadly destructive. They can be a good knife that will get work done efficiently, or they can be a dagger that manipulates and finally destroys what God is doing.
In order to keep things on track here are a couple of tips.
- Repeat the vision God gave you .
Almost incessantly. You do it over and over and over to the point that people say, “Enough already,” but you just move on to share it will others. Include what things will look like when you arrive as a church. Give details. Repeat what you’ve done from the beginning to get to that destination. This will keep your “Helpers” from easily grabbing the steering wheel.
- Keep committees as small as possible.
Just make sure you are not compromising the committee’s potential helpfulness.
- Clarify who’s in charge.
Repeat over and over in loving, non-confronting ways that you are the one who is in leading the committee. There’s no reason to become unnecessarily adversarial.
- Clarify the duration.
How long will the committee last?
One of my mentors warned me about letting the wrong people grab onto the steering wheel.
“If you don’t clarify that you are in charge, they will announce that they are in charge. To boot, they will take a pound of flesh out of you.”
Guess what? I didn’t listen all that well. I’ve had to go through spiritual plastic surgery to get back to health.
The summary of government I’ve arrived at since then in short is:
“I can fire you. You can’t fire me.”
It’s good not to be overly defensive as you deal with knuckleheads.
Smile as much as you can.
Express gratitude for the help they may have given.
Repeat, repeat then repeat some more the vision you’ve had from the beginning – the vision God has given you.
If you don’t share your vision, someone else will share their vision of “What we really need to do is…”
The big problem is that their version is not going to work. It never will with a church plant. You’ve received it. They hear it from you.
In some cases, committee people need to flat out leave your church. Bless them to go and help somewhere else. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking, “But they are major financial contributors. If they leave, we don’t know what will happen to all that’s been going on here.”
Don’t worry about the money you might lose. Maybe you need to get an outside job (or an extra job if you are in a situation like mine!) That’s not the end of the world. Make the adjustments. As inconvenient as that may be, hold tight. Don’t give in to their kiss of death. The money will return faster than you’d think. Once this season is past, you will be glad you did not fall prey to the manipulation of the money people.
Protect the thing that’s happening accidentally as God does His thing. Hang tight! The best is yet to come!