When we started a church, we began a journey of tumultuous ups and downs of personal growth. While stepping out into what seems like complete darkness over and over and over again has molded and shaped us in astounding ways, I also think there are several character traits that we needed to develop ahead of time in order to succeed. Maybe as you read this, you are just beginning a step of faith that seems monumental. Read on…it’s good stuff for your future!
A necessary attribute to stepping out in faith is perseverance. Not to discourage upcoming faith-steppers, but our story has not gotten easier over the last seven years. In fact, each day has gotten exponentially more difficult. I can vividly remembering closing my eyes during those first exhausting months of starting North Creek Church and saying to myself, “This is the hard part, it will get easier.” And then I realized the most horrifying thing: The only way it will get easier is if we fail. Success will bring more people, more responsibility, more problems, bigger leaps of faith, and more complications. And that is good news, whether it feels that way or not! We had to quickly get over the negative parts to that reality and embrace the fact that anything worth doing comes with work…lots of work. The good news: Even though this is not an easy job, we continue to see the fruit of persevering. The hard work is continually sprinkled with changed lives and miraculous stories. Don’t search for simple, search for significant.
Another one of the telling of the attributes that is needed to lead a charge of faith is optimism. Mark and I run pretty high on the optimistic scale, so when the lows come (and they will come), we are able to pull through. We have met with multiple church planters (and other people taking giant leaps of faith) and I can tell you that the ones that tended to be more on the “Glass is Half Empty” side, all shut the doors of their churches…and it didn’t take long. I don’t say that lightly because it was heartbreaking to watch. The levels of discouragement in people we loved was concerning to the core of our being. In fact, I think that if you tend to lean toward the negative, you should probably run from being the main leader of a church until you resolve that issue in your life. The last thing God wants for your life is to hate ministry. You’ve got to believe and hope deep within your heart.
A third attribute that we’ve needed to sustain our lives is rest. There is an ebb and flow to ministry (and life). Sometimes it’s just crazy and you’ve got to keep moving, but other times it feels like the calm before the storm. Enjoy that calm and rest! We do our best to honor the Sabbath and we take vacations. We also sit down nearly every morning on the couch and drink a cup of coffee together. We talk about the kids, the church, what we are doing for the day…it’s time to think, laugh, and connect. We stop and enjoy life when we can because it keeps us healthy. Resting also reminds us that God is in control, not us. As a wise man once said, “If you can’t take any time to think, you think too highly of yourself.”
So, that’s a good start to some things to keep in mind as you follow God’s path for your own life. Many blessings as you take steps of faith!
Spot on assessment. Required reading for all potential planters! Thank you!
Thanks, Dan! I think I just heard God whisper, “Move to Vancouver, Dan…” It might have been the wind, but you should do it anyway! 😉
That was a really great post! We’ve been contemplating planting a church ourselves, but still need much direction in the matter. There’s some good stuff in here. :-). (One problem is I do tend toward the negatie and Debbie more to the optimistic side, typically it’s held us in balance and in healthy tension, but I could see how potentially In church plant situation that might not be good?).
Brian – Personally, I think optimism is a habit, not a birthright. I think it can be taught and trained within ourselves. That’s a good topic for a blog! I would never tell you not to plant a church, but I would tell you to be aware of your weaker spots and work on them. Good luck!