Friday, August 14, 2009

Musings on Starting Churches

Overly the last three or four months it seems like I've had conversations with almost one church planter each week. After getting our church of the ground I get a lot of questions about the church planting process and often guys are looking for the "secret sauce" for starting churches. There are reasons that some new churches do well and reasons why others do not. I wanted to share some thoughts on this over the next few weeks for all of my friends who are thinking about starting churches.

Reasons new churches don't succeed:
1. Wiring of the leader planter: often times I meet guys who are trying to lead a church plant and they are not wired to be the lead guy. This is a combination of gifting, character and personality. There are several key gifts I think are absolutely essential: leadership and teaching. When the person in charge can lead and teach the whole organization will fare better. People want to follow a vision and they want to follow someone who is going somewhere. People without the leadership gifting fail to rally the troops and fail to inspire a common vision among people. We've all worked for or been around someone who is trying to lead and isn't wired in that way. It is painful for everyone. Now, I think everyone can become a better leader. In fact, 10 years ago i would not have thought of myself as being a lead pastor especially by age 22 (age I became a lead pastor)...

A couple of questions to determine if you are the lead person:
* Do people typically nominate you to be the leader in group settings. I know a lot of church planters who were presidents of their student government in high school/college or captains of their sports teams growing up.
* Are you comfortable being in charge without allowing it to go to your head? Are you able to cast vision to people and see them get excited?
* Do you find other strong leaders looking to you for wisdom, direction or advice?
* What kind of people naturally follow you? Are they the kind of people that others follow?

On the teaching side of things!! I think it is possible to get a church off the ground by the grace of God and a strong leadership gift. I think that for sustained moment in a new church it is very helpful to have a teaching gift. Let's be honest, most great communicators were pretty rough when they started. One way to identify if you have a teaching gift is to ask others who are developed communicators to listen to you and evaluate if they think you have the ability to teach.

A couple of other questions to think about:
* Do you see life in terms of teaching? When you learn something do you regularly find yourself thinking of sharing that with other people?
* Are you able to sort through lots of information and determine the essentials of that body of information without getting overwhelmed?
* Do people change when you teach/preach? Have you seen God use you through teaching to change people's lives?
* What do other gifted communicators say about your preaching and teaching?

There are several other skills that I find to be present in many good lead guys I interact with:
1. Willingness to go alone. This doesn't mean you aren't a team player, it just means that you are the first one willing to jump!
2. Ability to confront problems and problem people. Do you deal with people who are out of line with the vision or do you brush it under the rug hoping it will go away?
3. Teachability/Humility- are you willing to admit your mistakes, ask questions about things you don't know and confront areas of your life that need to change.
4. Discernment- I find that a lot of strong leaders have a keen ability to know what is going on in every level of their organization in uncanny ways. I think this is a gift and a skill that comes from paying attention to what people say and knowing how to ask probing questions.

These are some things to think about if you sense God leading you to start a church...