Recently I was able to spend several hours hanging out with a church planter who is in trouble. It seems he called the wrong bunch when launching his church.
This church plant was a congregation “hiving off” of a larger church that has a vision for planting churches. He had freedom to recruit anyone but key leaders and he recruited a sizeable group of people.
A Little Too Much Stability
However, like so many others he went after mostly Christian families. The theory being that they offer stability (and money in the offering). Sadly, stability is what he got—too much stability. They weren’t about to get involved. When he began to invite people to step into ministry they simply left the church.
The result is that he quickly lost two-thirds of his launch team (if you could even call it a team).
Most were good people who simply migrated to their local megachurch where they could comfortably hide in the crowd.
This church is located in an area of upscale homes and some were actually embarrassed to host a home group because their 3000 sq. ft. home wasn’t large enough. These folks compete with others over that stuff). But the main reason underlying the flight is that families are busy… and many families that haven’t been taught to sacrifice seldom learn. Soccer practice is more important than showing up even on Sundays.
This man is left pretty much alone to manage the details involved in running a new church. It is killing him and his own family.
The people he gathered in pre-launch seemed enthused enough but when it came time to produce they walked away. My advice to this young church planter was to gather the few single adults in the group and focus the best of his energy on discipling these people. A couple of families are still a live option but many are really too busy to be of much help. Of course the other group worthy of focused attention are those still on their way into faith in Jesus Christ.
Making Disciples May Save The Church
If he begins intensively making disciples he may still pull the church out of the fire. He can build a cadre of people loyal to him and his assignment. He can teach them the missional side of church life. Hopefully, they will eventually marry and build families around the Great Commission rather than in resistance to it.
In essence, he should try to pastor two churches at the same time—the stable families and his (hopefully) hot young disciples.
Single adults possess an asset that many families do not. That is discretionary time. And that’s the basic building block for any ministry. Toss in discretionary income and idealism and this church may yet prevail.
Admittedly, this is the long way around the block—it will take time and perseverance. But, it is as close as he can get to the model Jesus left us and it is what Paul did with Silas, Timothy, etc. It would have been wiser to go for adventuresome people than stability long before launch day.