The most important question any church planter can ask is “ Why am I planting a church?” I have had some conversations with some great guys lately who I think are really struggling with that question. All of us struggle with why we are in ministry on Monday morning, but we need to evaluate our motivation on a bigger scale.
Let’s look at what I think are some lousy reasons to plant a church and then share a great reason I recently heard.
First the lousy reasons:
“I want to reinvent church”
This one comes in a lot of flavors, but it always comes down to the bottom line, I have a better way to do church. More hymns, no hymns, pews, no pews, more art, more coffee, more beer, less structure, less formality. We’re going to be radically sold out. We’re not going to cater to Christians. We’re going to go deep. We’re going to go wide. We’re going to be a church for people who absolutely abhor the awful church that I’m currently drawing my paycheck from.
The church doesn’t need you to reinvent it. God may lead you to do ministry a little differently (though almost all of the “new, fresh, casual, relevant” churches tend to look exactly alike), but that is not a reason to plant a church. The church is not a canvas for you to express your individuality. The church is God’s idea and he’ll let you know when it needs to be reinvented.
“I’m looking for my next ministry job”
The church staff business is a tough gig these days. There have been a ton of layoffs and there are some amazing people who are no longer employed by a church or are looking for a new place to work. But that isn’t a reason to start a new church. The church is not a union shop and we don’t need more so we will all have a job.
“There are no good churches in the community where I want to plant”
I would bet that almost every community in America has at least one good church. If you want a humbling exercise search for churches on a map of your area. (Here’s a link to a search of Orange County, California where I currently live. The churches are the red dots that look like measles.) Not every church is life giving, but I bet at least one is.
So why would you start a church?
I was talking recently to a church planter in the Northwest. He said the reason he started a church was because his friends were going to hell and he couldn’t think of a better way to bring them to Jesus. He said that once all of his friends are saved (he’s personally led many of them to Christ in the six years since he started the church) he would probably go do something else. As he told me this story tears welled up in his eyes; he can’t stand the thought of his friends facing eternity without God.
We don’t need any more churches in America, but we are woefully short of life saving stations. If you just want to start another church please go somewhere that needs one. If you can’t stand the thought of people going to hell from your community, and you are convinced that starting a new church is the only way you can reach them, let me know how I can help.