Church planters are a rare breed. No one in their right mind would ever choose to do it! It must be a calling. And no one wants their church plant to fail. Yet, here are seven reasons I’ve seen why some have:
1 . The Church Is Planted Out Of Bitterness Rather Than A Divine Calling From God!
What some people call a church plant, God actually calls a church split. When a group of bitter, angry, self serving people with a lot of money find a hireling who will do all that they want him to do, that isn’t necessarily a church plant. And usually within two or three years it goes really bad. Let me be very clear here—when bitterness and anger are the root of the plant, then the church is in deep trouble right at the beginning.
2. The Leadership Has a Desire for Imitation Rather than Seeking Revelation!
We’ve seen it before. A group of guys go to a conference and see a church, and then come back to their community and try to be just like the church they saw at the conference. There is nothing wrong with receiving inspiration and ideas at a conference, but when one church tries to be just like another one in every area then I believe the leaders are spending way too much time studying methods rather than the Scriptures. God calls every church to be unique in some sort of way and that will never be found if the leadership isn’t desperately seeking God for his direction.
3. The Pastor Has a Desire to Be Known Way More than He Desires to Fulfill the Great Commission!
When a leader is more obsessed with how many hits he is getting on his blog or how many people follow him on Twitter, and because of those things loses sight of reaching people for Christ–it’s over.
4. When the Leadership Allows the Vision to Get Sidetracked in Order to Keep Everyone Happy!
Every church planter will experience someone trying to sidetrack the vision of the church most of the time before the church ever officially launches. Pastor, beg God for his vision, let him burn it in your heart, and then go for it and don’t let anyone talk you out of what God has clearly spoken into you.
5. The Pastor Isn’t Willing to Call People to Commit.
The last thing we need in the body of Christ is a room full of people who are more committed to watching their favorite TV shows every week than they are to following Christ. Pastors, you can’t be afraid to ask people to commit to Christ, to volunteer, to give and to read their Bibles. If you back down from this then you will do nothing more than raise a co-dependent group of people who learn to depend on you rather than Jesus.
6. The Pastor Lacks Courage!
This sort of goes along with #5. I believe that every church planter will be tested early in the process, usually within the first six months—and also usually it will relate to finances. A big giver will begin to list out his or her demands, and then the leader must decide whether or not he is a prostitute (paid for a service) or a prophet (someone who belongs to God.) Pastor, leadership requires courage. People will take shots at you. People will take what you say out of context. People will lie about you. You are not going to be loved by everyone, and to face that reality takes courage. If you lack it then you won’t make it.
7. The Pastor Tries to Do It All by Himself!
Dear Pastor, you are not that good! You can’t do it all (even though some will expect you to). You’ve got to delegate ministry to others. You’ve got to listen to the people God intentionally places around you. You’ve got to admit when the load is too heavy so those who care about you can take things off your plate. You’ve got to understand that Jesus cares way more about the church than you do, and he will send the right people along side of you to make sure his vision becomes reality. We are not called to do it alone!
Bob Hostetler is a literary agent, an award-winning writer, editor, pastor, and speaker from southwestern Ohio. His thirty books, which include The Bone Box and American Idols (The Worship of the American Dream), have sold millions of copies. He has co-authored eleven books with Josh McDowell, including the best-selling Right from Wrong (What You Need to Know to Help Youth Make Right Choices), and the award-winning Don't Check Your Brains at the Door. He has won two Gold Medallion Awards, four Ohio Associated Press awards, and an Amy Foundation Award, among others. Bob is a frequent speaker at churches, conferences, and retreats. Bob was ordained to the ministry in 1980 by the Salvation Army and earned degrees in English Bible from Cincinnati Christian University and English Communications from Bloomfield College. In 2000, Bob (with his wife, Robin) helped to co-found Cobblestone Community Church in Oxford, Ohio. They have two children and four grandchildren. He has been a disc jockey, pastor, magazine editor, freelance book editor, and (with Robin) a foster parent to ten boys (though not all at once). They live in Hamilton, Ohio. You can follow Bob at @bobhoss.