So I am in an amazing network of church planters called the new thing network.
Once a month, we do a coaching call & talk about church planting, our hearts & leadership as pastors and how we can lead more effectively and serve our churches better. It is a great brotherhood & I am honored to have these guys wisdom, and friendship in my life. My network is Troy McMahon from Restore Community Church in Kansas City, Mike Hickerson from Mission Church in Ventura Ca and Jon Peacock from Mission Church Roshelle Ill. So this blog is birthed out a conversation with these guys that was a great blessing for me so they all get a big assist on this one.
Planting a church is tough! One of the most difficult tasks of any pioneering leader with an apostolic gift is to manage their personal expectations. As well as managing the expectations that others have for you. For me I am always my toughest critic so although many had high expectations for the Avenue none were tougher on me than me!
Here are a few things we discussed – I hope they are a blessing to someone else they certainly were for me.
1) – We are called to be Faithful not successful
This changes the scorecard! If you are planting a church or working with a campus ministry or banging your head against the wall in ministry you need to know that God does not desire or expect success. He wants faithfulness he wants obedience, he wants each of us to learn to Walk by faith, to know his voice & to follow. The expectations of success almost killed me at times this year. I beat myself up when the numbers weren’t what I thought they should be, when the sermon wasn’t delivered as well as it should have been, and when things didn’t go the way I planned. I had to learn to trust God to do the God things and to know that my part was simply to keep showing up, keep working hard & keep following where he was calling me to go.
2) – Cast your burdens on Him
This may date me a bit but I love the old Duran Duran song “when you come undone” The ? that keeps repeating is “Who do you love, who do you need, who do you want when it comes undone.” Believe me in church planting or campus ministry its going to come undone! Things aren’t going to work the way you planned it, people will let you down, your leaders won’t get it & you will find yourself tempted to throw your entire vision down the drain. The question is when things don’t go the way you planned where will you run? Scripture says, Psalms 55:22 “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” Run to Him, allow Him to sustain you, to encourage you, to lead you, to guide you & direct you. If there is nothing else you should be learning in ministry it is the ability to hear Gods voice & respond. Dallas Willard once said, “we are called to take one step closer to the kingdom each day.” Are you in His presence enough to hear His voice? Do you have enough courage to respond? Are you casting your burden on Him so He can sustain you?
3) – Have truth tellers in your life
When prides or self pity begin to creep into your ministry you have to have truth tellers who will speak the gospel to you in love. I have to have people in my life who repeatedly tell me, “its not about you!” People who keep pushing me more towards becoming who I am called to be & people who will walk with me & continue to speak the truth in love. The truth I needed this year was, “yes this is going to be hard, yes things may not go the way you planned, but your identity is found in Christ not in how successful the church is.”
I needed to know that Gods ability to clean things up is far bigger than my ability to mess things up.
I needed people to urge me on in the middle of the mess. I needed people teaching me that this is Gods church & not mine & that His will is going to prevail!
How are you managing the expectations of your life?
What have you learned in the middle of those expectations?