In recent months I’ve received way too many phone calls that go something like this: “I’m calling to let you know that ‘Joe Churchplanter’ has had a moral failure and is stepping away from ministry.” Here are some guiding principles and proactive steps you can take to help keep your name out of that sentence.
1. Planting is spiritual warfare. Understand that planting is a front line activity that makes a direct negative impact on the strongholds of the Enemy. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Satan will do everything to stop an effective church plant. If he can take down the leader, the chances that the church will survive and thrive are minimal.
- Prayerfully submit your life to the Lord daily, leaning heavily on his strength and relying on him to fight the battle in the spiritual realms.
- Regularly acknowledge that you can’t do anything without Him working strongly in your life.
2. The best defense is a good offense. Some well-intentioned planters have surrounded themselves with all sorts of guardrails to prevent them from sinning. Practical guardrails are fine but without authentic reliance on God’s strength, we subtly begin to attempt to overcome sin in our own strength. The paradox is that the best way to run from sin is to run toward the Lord.
- Continually seek to be filled with the presence and the power of God. As God is great in you, it becomes harder for sin to find a foothold.
- The dominant question should be, “What is God calling me to do today?” Then go do it with all of His strength.
3. Confession of sins is powerful. Effective planters are well served by cultivating authentic relationships with trusted mentors to whom they can confess their sins. The action of verbalizing one’s struggles goes a long way to breaking the power of sin in our lives. However, confession of sins should not be the sum total of the mentoring relationship. We are frequently admonished to encourage, bless, and provoke one another.
- Confess your sins and then confess your God-given hopes, dreams and visions.
4. Little stuff leads to big stuff. I’ve never talked with a fallen leader that went from a healthy balanced life to a full-blown moral failure in one act. Pay attention to the little compromises. Don’t allow them to form calluses on your heart that make you insensitive to bigger compromises.
- Confess the little stuff right away.
- Stay soft before the Lord!