Sunday, February 22, 2009

Church Planting Lessons

Now that we've been here in the Silicon Valley for about 6 months, I figured I would take some time to write down some things I've learned in our church planting journey.
  1. Church planting is very hard work, so we must know we're called to do it. I think pretty much every person in our staff team has gone through days of extreme pressure, stress, or even depression. If it wasn't the unquestionable calling we sense in being here, I'm not sure I could make it at points.
  2. Church planting produces much fruit for God's Kingdom. I'm convinced that planting new churches is probably the most effective way to reach unbelievers in our culture.
  3. The "business" side of church is much more complex than I expected. It takes quite some work to get a tax ID #, the 501c3 non-profit status, EDD numbers, Articles of Incorporation, accounting, etc. I'm very very glad that my dad is now in our team and will take the "business" responsibilities from my lap.
  4. Staying tuned to God is a must. Church planting gets so busy as we meet with people non-stop, work on getting everything ready for services, etc. that it would be easy to forget why we're really here. We are constantly reminding each other to stay close to God and to keep the vision of reaching people with His Love as a priority.
  5. God's favor is priceless. This is the first time in my ministry that I sense such a high level of God's blessing and favor over what we're doing. We have talked about this numerous times since we came - it feels like God is moving and we're just trying to keep up. He is going before us and opening miraculous doors and it has very little to do with us. I hope to always be in this position in the future.
  6. Never underestimate the need to have the right team. If even one of the people in our staff team was not here, we would just not be seeing the fruit we're seeing. I see many church planters going "solo" or trying to do this without having the right people around them, and that is perhaps the biggest mistake anyone can make in this field. It is hard enough to do it with our 3 initial staff families (and these guys are top level leaders), so I can't imagine trying without a great team.
  7. God is looking for people who will believe BIG. Too many people stop believing God for big results and settle for "maintenance" ministry. I have been reminded in this journey that God still longs to move mightily, but He will only do it for those who believe Him for it, take risks, and prepare themselves for the miracle. "Don't pray for rain without grabbing the umbrella".
  8. Church planting is more about being a "learner" than being a "teacher". There is no room for pride in this journey. One of the best things we've done here is just asking questions, learning about people's cultures, recognizing our smallness in the midst of God's work. I have really enjoyed sitting with Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Atheists, etc. and just listening to them and learning about their lives. We are all "people" in God's eyes, He does not categorize us in the same ways we categorize each other.
  9. Partnership with other churches will make or break you. If it weren't for the 15+ churches that are partnered with our project, we would not be even at 10% of our effectiveness. It is more obvious to me than ever that God designed His Church to multiply in partnerships, not as "independent" congregations.
  10. God, Family, Ministry. Any other order will mess you up. Ministry at this level would not be possible for me without intimacy with my wife and kids. And true intimacy with my wife and kids could not be possible without intimacy with God. I have run to God and my wife more times in this journey than I can count. God first, Family second, Ministry third.
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