This is the 18th (and final) installment in a series based on my adventures in planting a church. For more information on the series or to see what else we have walked through, check out the original post. My hope is to use this series to develop a resource for planters as they are thinking about diving in or need to process their current situation. This resource is incomplete without your contribution (that is a subtle way of saying “leave a comment”).
I began this series in February thinking that I would be writing eight posts and moving on to something else. Eighteen posts and 80 percent of an eBook later, I believe that it is time to draw this series to a close. As I finish out the series, I want to say one thing to any planters or potential planters:
Don’t go it alone.
As I have watched church leaders — regardless of whether they are in an existing church or planting — the ones that get into trouble are the ones that have allowed themselves to become isolated, even if they are surrounded by tons of people. If I can leave you with anything, my advice to church planters is to seek connection, coaching, and counseling.
- Connection: Find people outside of your church and family to connect with. When I have been healthiest in ministry, I have had several people around me who understood ministry life and were willing to be a safe place to connect, unwind, and decompress. Their insight, companionship, and discretion were a huge part of why I was able to minister well.
- Coaching: Having someone in your life who is willing to ask you hard questions and press you to answer them is a gift. As a planter, you need someone who will help you think through the decisions that you are making and ask you questions that force you to think deeper about what you are about to do. Whether you call them a coach or a mentor, find this person — and be honest with them.
- Counseling: As you and your family negotiate the church planting journey, you will unearth things in your life that will wreck your ministry unless you deal with them decisively. Sometimes these things can be worked through with those you are connecting with or your mentor, but there are times when you need to be a little more intentional. Counseling is much cheaper and much less time consuming than burnout or a moral failure. Invest early and often.
Who are you pursuing this journey with?
Coaching is a pretty big deal, and it is something that I believe every church planter needs to invest in. While I am a big fan of the Coaching Cohorts that we do with Church Simple and Plant Simple, Shawn Lovejoy at ChurchPlanters.com and Craig Whitney at ELI both do a phenomenal job of coaching church planters. Bottom Line: Get coaching, and pursue it hard.