October 13, 2014

Church Planting Basics: Make Sure You're Not too Welcoming!

The early stages of forming a launch group for a new church are particularly vulnerable. Once word gets around that something ‘new’ is starting, people will want to become a part of it. This is both good and bad. It is good if you attract the right sort of people. They are very few and are extremely hard to come by. How do we know who the right kind of people are?

1. They want to serve rather than lead from the off.

2. They come with impeccable credentials from their previous church. Beware of anybody that a church pastor is only too glad to be rid of.

3. They have a deep concern for the lost.

4. They are prayerful and supportive of the work.

5. They are hospitable and generous with their time, gifts, and money.

6. They are teachable and humble.

The wrong people usually come with their own baggage and tell-tale signs.

1. They left their last church(es) under a cloud and are only too willing to tell you the faults of their previous pastor(s).

2. They are uncomfortable when you ask for previous church recommendations.

3. They come with a history of fall-outs and are always the injured party.

4. They angle for a position of authority without first committing to a period of service.

5. They are not teachable.

6. They are more concerned that you recognise their gifts than about reaching the lost.

Of course, we need to be hospitable and welcoming to all who come into our path. But, we have a duty of care to protect the flock from the many wolves who are out there. I have lost count of the number of people who claim to have been sent to me by God or want my pulpit to deliver a special word for the people. We have had people come to us because they’re angry with their own church’s failure to recognise their stunning gifting and their elders inability to see how much of a treasure to the church they are. There are some messed up people out there just looking for a forum to peddle their wares. In the early days we can be suckered into accepting people just to make up the numbers and to be polite.

Don’t do it. Love people and accept them into what you’re doing, but be wise. Use discernment. Make sure you have a handle on loose cannons. Spend time with people and get to know their back story. Check them out. Tell them up front that this is what you’re going to do. Those with nothing to hide will be delighted by this. They will welcome it. The others you will never see again. I guarantee it. Make sure you explain the DNA of your church from the off. Make sure people know your theological and doctrinal convictions. Whatever you do, don’t put people you hardly know into positions of leadership too early. I have been caught out numerous times by doing this. Better to have people leave unhappy before they have leadership influence than promote the wrong people too quickly who leave a trail of hurt and devastation behind them.

Wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove on this one.

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