Seven Things I Would do Differently as a Planter - Part Three
Seven Things I Would do Differently if I was Planting a Church Today - Part Two
By Pastor Scott Thomas
Acts 29 Director and Mars Hill Church Executive Elder
After planting, replanting, coaching church planters and directing a network, I have gained some valuable insight that I would apply if I was planting a church today. I am as committed to my role as director, but I reflected on ways I could have made my church plant better.
Here are my thoughts:
1. I would expose the gospel to the fullest extent as possible in every context, relationship, conflict and teaching.
See part one
2. I would connect with God as I connected culture.
3. I would focus on developing missional communities as expressions of the gospel in as many contexts as possible.
4. I would focus on developing young men for the mission of Jesus.
5. I would train leaders relentlessly
Once you have identified a man who can be a leader, what do we do? My friend, PJ Smyth, a church planter in South Africa showed me the progression of Titus as Paul mentored him into leadership.
- In 2 Cor. 7:6-7, Titus was a friend who encouraged Paul in his work as a missionary. 2) The ministry of the Macedonians encouraged Titus
- (2 Cor. 7:13-15). He grew in his affection for those laboring faithfully.
- Titus was a faithful worker carrying out the wishes of Paul (2 Cor. 8:6). He was a faithful mule doing what Paul asked of him.
- Titus developed a heart for the ministry and initiated ministry on his own (2 Cor. 8:16-17). He developed the same passion for the church as Paul. We need to applaud the aggressive nature of the men around us and not try to keep them as mules. They may snort and stomp and buck a little. Our job is to apply the gospel in the areas of their life that will make them useful stallions.
- Paul says that Titus was a proven minister (2 Cor. 8:23 and 12:18).
- Titus 1:4-5, Titus was the senior overseer to appoint elders throughout the island of Crete. His proven faithfulness and calling allowed him to pioneer works in a hostile environment.
I would not do much of anything else except to train leaders. I will let others do administration. Identifying, equipping and sending leaders are the jobs of the pastor who is committed to train leaders relentlessly. I would train leaders to lead and not to hold an office. We should not appoint leaders too quickly before they have earned the right to lead and are qualified.
At every sermon, we must call men to mission, to lead, to repent of their idols. We have to equip men to be good fathers, good husbands, and good men. Those men who are addicted to alcohol or pornography or have anger issues are involved in a redemption group (a recovery group, of sorts) focused on getting back to the image of God.
Of the people who are involved in community groups, 70% should be in a normal rhythm of community life where they receive their shepherding, encouragement, learning, serving and missional living. 10% are involved in one to one counseling as a tow truck to move them down the road, but with the design to get them back on the highway of community group. Another 20% are pulled off the highway for maintenance. These are redemption groups whose goal is to return to the main highway.
6. I would get a coach
According to a study by Leadership Network, only 68% of all church plants are still alive after four years. The odds of survivability increase 250% (2.5 times) when the planter receives some leadership development training. They reported that survival rate has doubled since implementing important systems such as assessment, training, and coaching.
Coaching is essential to empower others in the journey as they discover what God wants them to do and then doing it (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12). It gives them a prayer partner, accountability, feedback, perspective, encouragement, resources (ideas, content) and help with strategic planning.
7. I would enjoy the journey of church planting
We image the gospel as we display the grace of God in our lives and as we display grace toward others—even (especially) when they mess up. The gospel includes receiving the grace of God. We must apply this with our family, our “followers”, those in our churches who are our workers and especially the drama-queen worship team (kidding).
I often overlooked the evidences of grace in my life as a planter. I expected the best effort. That bled into my family. One evening when I was stressed and overly-complained about something, my oldest son asked me, “Dad, do you have a trip coming up soon?” My wife erupted with a contagious laugh and we appreciated the candidness of a son whose father was not displaying the evidences of grace.
As we exercise grace to others, we need to exercise toward ourselves as well. Our righteousness is not established through numbers of butts in a seat. We need to see the lives transformed and not the nickels and noses as necessary for our righteousness.
Three upcoming boot camps: