On Monday I talked about the five blessings of church planting. Today I want to describe some of the top challenges I’ve faced in church planting so far. Here are six:
Fear — Fear almost kept me from church planting. I’m not talking about healthy fear: an honest assessment of the cost, an accurate sense of one’s inadequacy; a sober realization that you’re about to take on something much bigger than what you can handle. I’m talking about the wrong type of fear: the desire for comfort, and a fear of putting one’s neck on the line. This is closely related to my next challenge.
Idolatry — It’s easy to get into church planting as a form of idolatry. Someone has said that church planting exposes your idols. I’ve found that many of my fears were based on idols, such as comfort and money. I’ve sometimes also sensed that my fear of failing in church planting can come not from a sense of being the best steward before God (a good thing), but from a fear of what others will think. Want to find out what your idols are? Church planting will expose them.
Lack of clarity — I should know better, but I sometimes lose sight of what church planting is all about: evangelism that results in new churches, as J.D. Payne puts it. It’s simple, but it’s hard. I find it’s easy to lose sight of this and begin to overcomplicate things.
Poor financial models — There are many ways to fund a church plant. If I had to do it over again, I would try harder to get more of the financing done up front, or to go a completely bivocational route.
Comparison — I know some strong churches that look impressive, but I need to remember they didn’t all look this way. It’s a huge mistake to compare a baby church to a more mature one. A baby isn’t supposed to look like a teenager or an adult. Comparisons stink.
Spiritual attack — This is one of the greatest challenges of church planting. We have an enemy who hates church planting. When you sign up for church planting, you’re signing up for warfare.
Despite these challenges, I’m overwhelmingly positive about the importance of church planting. I highly recommend it.