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Resilience in Church Planting

Blog: Resilience in Church Planting

Resilience in Church Planting
Dustin Neeley, pastor and planter of The Crossing Church, in Louisville, Kentucky.

Originally published on the Resurgence here. 

Church planting is hard. Over the past five years, I have been disappointed, disillusioned and just plain dissed by various people and problems. However, by God's grace, here we stand as a church that is not just surviving, but thriving, and planting new churches.
One of the keys? Resilience.

Good, old fashioned, gospel-driven "sticktoitiveness."
Sadly, this is a quality that I have seen lacking in far too many church planters. 

Many men are interested in having a cool website, a Mac, and the latest Driscoll book in their messenger bag. But how many are willing to stay the course even when the going gets tough? Far fewer. In fact, I believe the absence of resilience is why so many church planters flame out, shame out, or tap out in the first five years and close down their churches.

Acknowledging that resilience is a necessity for missional success, what can we do to grow it within us?

Recognize that God commands it. 
In Paul's first letter to his apprentice Timothy, he writes, "As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry" (2 Tim. 4:5). He says the same to us today. Be disciplined. Stay the course. Fulfill your ministry through the power of God at work within you.

Learn to take a punch. 
It has been well said that wise men turn their critics into coaches. As we grow in the gospel as leaders, we are wise to look for the "diamonds in the rough," even among the most stinging criticism, and seek to learn from (and not repeat) our mistakes.

Consider the examples of those who have gone before. 
The "Hall of Faith" in Hebrews 11 is such a great encouragement for church planters. To see that we share the same mission as Abraham, Moses, Joshua, and all of the other heroes is a great encouragement in times of trial. Suddenly, in the light of a man being asked to sacrifice his own son, being kicked out of your building doesn't seem so bad.

Learn to truly depend upon Jesus. 
Though all of us would give lip-service to this concept, most of us struggle to give it life-service as well. Pray that God would teach you what it means to abide in Him, listen to His voice, and give you His strength for the hard road ahead. More than anything, this will give you the strength to endure. 

There are many, many things that I would change about the last five years of planting. But one thing that I would not change is how God has grown resilience in me through the power of His Spirit at work within me especially during the hard times. May he do the same in you.



Dustin has been the Planter and Lead Pastor of Crossing Church since Crossing’s inception in 2005. Before planting Crossing, Dustin was a Teaching Pastor/Elder at Sojourn Community Church here in Louisville, KY. Dustin’s ministry history also includes extensive experience with youth and college students, several years of traveling speaking and leading worship around the United States as well as writing two independently published books and recording five music cds.