As we have walked through this series, some helpful information has emerged from our survey and informal research with planters and veteran church planting leaders. Some who are reading this series are planting with great support systems. Others, either by choice or due to circumstances beyond their control, are Lone Rangers.
Another critical audience for this series is made up of the key leaders in church planting support networks. Those leaders can make a long-term difference for multiple church plants, and thus for the cause of Christ. I hope that this series has challenged each group to think critically about what is needed to plant and how to do it more effectively.
As I have mentioned several times, this research is not applicable to every situation, but it is probably applicable to most. The sample and the experts we queried were planting in a certain way and the answers (and issues) flow from that.
So, what can we learn from it?
First, if you are planting a church you need a coach (yes, maybe even a paid one). The coach (or mentor) can help planters focus on goals and actions steps related to all 7 issues. I know that may overwhelm you, but you are investing in viability. How much will it cost you personally if the church plant closes? We all know that the cost goes far beyond dollars and cents for all involved.
I make no promises, but the likelihood of planting a healthy, evangelistic, multiplying new church will be much greater if you take steps to cement action and energy toward these 7 issues discussed in this report.
If you are a planter, let me encourage you to think long-term. Don't make the mistake of focusing on the 7 for a few months and then dropping them. Most of these issues have no quick fix-solution and will have impact on your influence as long as you are planting.
Take a close look at the following highlights from the 7 Top Issues report. Several things some to mind as I look through the report.
- The challenges of planting commonly result in discouragement and loneliness. The importance of the right point leader (called and wired) is critical in light of the obstacles and challenges of church planting.
- The church planter and family are vulnerable to discouragement and loneliness that comes as a result of spiritual attacks. A solid foundation of faith in God, a surrendered life, and a healthy marriage are critical issues for the lead church planter.
- A rigorous assessment process (sometimes including assistance from a trained clinical psychologist) is important. Key pillars of most organizations' support systems such as assessment, training and coaching are vital.
- Spousal support systems should be added to church planting systems in the future. Most planting organizations focus on pre-launch and launch phases of church planting. Significant opportunities exist for serving planters, their families, and their teams in the post-launch phase.
- Peer-to-peer relationships and church planter networks are vital to meeting the planter's needs of support, encouragement and accountability.
- In this type of plant, getting systems in place in key before going public. Planters should have the following milestones in place before launch: (1) clarity of ministry philosophy (vision, mission, values, leadership culture); (2) solid team of leaders committed to the cause; (3) fundraising support for the planter's family in place; (4) non-negotiable priorities that shape the initial ministries of the church and create a filter for saying "yes" and "no"; and (5) solid core processes and systems in key areas such as discipleship, evangelism, leadership development, and planning.
- Church planting mentors and coaches who speak into the planter's life on a regular basis are important.
- A key issue is discerning the painfully difficult decision between quitting or persevering with the plant during critical times. The Top 7 Issues Planters Face research provides a credible template to build systems and process that address all 7 thus creating more effective church planting environments.
I said similar words in an earlier blog but they are worth repeating: Accountability through networking is vital to address every issue planters face. Sadly too many planters try to make it alone reading books and websites. A great opportunity to network is coming to Orlando on April 26-29. Dubbed by the organizers the "Largest Gathering of Church Planters on the Planet," the Exponential Conference will provide endless next level opportunities for church planters. I know the 7 Top Issues will be part of the ongoing conversation and I will share them more in-depth at my pre-conference intensive. I hope to see you there.
Would you like to respond to this list by reflecting on it, addition to it, or disagreeing with it? I'd be open to hear it and having you guest post. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us your view, and we might invite you to respond in a blog.