Church planting takes a lot out of you. When we planted the second time, my wife set herself to see much less of me for the first year—she had learned the first time.
Much is written about the process, relationships and structures involved in multiplying churches. But one thing we can easily overlook is the friendship factor. My wife and I were, literally, without friends except for a few hours on Sunday during our first adventure.
We had planted the church without a team, though a few friends did help we only saw them on weekends. It was a very lonely situation.
The second time we had a core team and they were great people. Many are still with us 29 years later. Many others have gone on to launch other churches.
But the wondrous factor in our second church plant was that we partnered with a couple who were our best friends.
Friendship magnifies happiness and it blunts the force of misery. Staff, team and structure can never be a substitute for great friendships. I’m not saying that the team won’t grow great friendships—that’s a given. But starting with someone who is already a tight friend makes life a whole lot better.
A treatise like this wouldn’t be complete without bringing old King Solomon into the picture. He wrote, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).
Giving deference to Solomon, especially the last part of the quotation would suggest that three best friends at the center of a church planting team are better than two. Either way, when visioneering and budgeting we should make room for the friendship factor.