5. Get to know the pastors and key leaders in the community.
In the same way we need ministry teams to effectively shepherd a congregation, we also need to have meaningful collegial relationships with other pastors in the community. Church planters should attend monthly ministerial fellowships and get to know the “lay of the land,” ask the right questions, and learn from the mistakes of those leaders who have gone before them.
Church planters especially need the support of other likeminded pastors called to the region so they can be part of a support group. This is especially true if their mother church is in another state. But even if it is nearby, connecting with other pastors ensures that you do not have a sectarian spirit, but a spirit of unity that enhances the kingdom of God instead of only your own empire.
6. Strike a balance between discipleship and outreach.
The philosophy I employed when I started our local church was based on 2 Timothy 2:2, which teaches that senior leaders are to pour into faithful people who are able to teach others.
I have seen many church planters get so caught up with numbers that their church became more of a center for events and big-name personalities that could draw people into a building, than in focusing on building people. A church must be more than a “gathering of loose bricks."
We are called to build a spiritual temple that can truly offer praises unto God. Church planters have to remember that the method they employ to establish a new church will be needed to sustain the long-term interest of the church attendees. Those who attempt to build a church by bringing in Christian celebrities will have to keep putting out an enormous amount of money in advertising and offerings to these guests, which will become a monster that has to be constantly fed. They will soon realize that building a church like this does not produce much fruit.
I believe successful church planters also have to know the balance between pushing their attendees to help in evangelistic outreaches, and in nurturing those who are already in the church. Some have made the mistake of only utilizing a strong mindset of outreach, without also employing in-reach to people who are established in the faith and have new families they have to raise.
When you have a young church, full of a lot of single adults who have a lot of time on their hands, you can push them hard to do a lot of ministry-related neighborhood outreaches. But there comes a time when those same people are going to get married and have children and need to have more family time and biblical counseling to aid them in their journey to maturity as fathers, mothers, husbands and wives.
Unfortunately, I have observed numerous young churches experience continual church splits because their pastors never distinguished between single young people with more time on their hands and those with growing families. Consequently, these leaders demanded that those with new and growing families serve in the church 4-6 nights per week without any letup, which causes burnout, divorce, adultery and bitterness toward ministry.
Joseph Mattera has been in full-time ministry since 1980 and is currently the presiding bishop of Christ Covenant Coalition and Overseeing Bishop of Resurrection in New York, a multiethnic congregation of 40 nationalities that has successfully developed numerous leaders and holistic ministry in the New York region and beyond. Click here to visit his website.
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