Memoirs of a confused church planter in search of a missional church…

(I wrote this 2 years ago.  I was reading back through some of my older journal posts this afternoon and thought I’d share it with you.  It is amazing how Jesus has answered some of these questions over the past few years.)

  1. Why did I desire this (church planting) in the first place?
    1. Am I prepared to plant a church?  What type of training or experience do I really need to be up for the job at hand?
  1. What is the difference between vision and fantasy?  Can idealism and realism work together to hone vision/mission that leads well?  Does the church I dream of helping produce even exist?  Should it?  Is it God’s vision or my fantasy?
  1. Vision Casting!  What’s that about?  And what other things in a community of faith are ‘casting vision’ along side or against me?  Is it dishonest to cast an idealistic vision?  Will realists in the crowd view me as dishonest?
  1. The crowd is sometimes influenced by people who see church differently than I do.  Sometimes these folks are even antagonistic towards me or the ‘vision’ I am casting.  I’ve learned quickly that I don’t get to choose who other people listen to.  How do I best respond or deal with that reality?  How do I lead other leaders who may have the same ‘rebel’ or ‘maverick’ personality that I have?  I guess I’m asking how to lead people like me.
  1. What am I supposed to control?  Am I ultimately ‘responsible’ for everything?  Lord knows I feel responsible for much more than I can influence or control, and that’s an unhappy place to be.
  1. Why is it that some days all I see are the things that are going wrong?  Why do I get so discouraged when as a whole, things aren’t so bad?  Why does it feel like I’m the only one striving to make this thing better?
  1. I’ve noticed that often people go along with what we are doing simply because they don’t want to disagree with me, or they want to be supportive.  But when a decision causes them personal struggle, inconvenience or difficulty, they stop ‘going along.’  How do I lead people to participate in a new thing in such a way that they buy in to the struggle of moving forward?  How do I avoid the blame that comes when risks don’t turn out as well as we hoped?
  1. Why do so many people get mad at me?  What are the things I do that tick them off?  Why do they tell everyone else, but they won’t tell me?  How can I ever live under this microscope?  What is the healthy response to this reality and why does this happen?
  1. How do I tell people no?  A lot of people come up with some really bad ideas, in my opinion.  How do I keep a bad thing from happening without discouraging them too much?  What are they really seeking when they bring me some new idea?  Is it even about the idea?
  1. How do you really know what people are thinking?  (The power of the unspoken)  How do you really know what is important to people when they may not know themselves?
  1. How do you really know what is important to Jesus?  And how do you help people find value in those things?  How should I lead when what our people see as important and what Jesus sees as important are polarized perspectives?
  1. It seems like many of our people are purely consumerist in their approach to finding a faith community?  They pit our church against others and weigh out the benefits for them in the long run?  How do I compete with churches who have more money, most staff and larger facilities?  Should I even try?  What should I tell people who expect more than we can deliver?
  1. Feeding the good stuff… how do you increase the good stuff while decreasing the bad stuff in a new and forming community?  Who decides what is good and what is bad?  How do we lead for improvement… or should we?
  1. How does ‘trust’ work?   Who should I trust along the way?  How do I convince cynical people to trust me?  Do I deserve to be trusted and what would that even look like?
  1. Is it a good thing or a bad thing when ‘church people’ want to be a part of this newly forming community of faith?  What baggage do folks inundated with Christian Culture bring with them to a new community of faith?  Can that hurt us?  What can/should I do about it?
  1. What is disciple making?  How do I ‘ensure’ that it is happening as the community gains growth momentum and more people become part of the church?  What is the balance of ‘doing my job’ and trusting God to do His job when it comes to Faith Development?
  1. How do I know how much to care about success?  Assuming that success is in many ways a perception at best, what is the wise approach to developing my own commitment to succeed at the mission?  How do I know if I care too much?  Too little?  Does God become more or less proud of us?  Do I please Him with success at all?  What, in relation to success, does he really expect of me as a church planter?
  1. To what extent should I gauge my success on the fruitfulness of other similar ministries?  When is this accountability and when is it simply the wrong thing to do?  What kind of benefits and/or damage can comparing like this bring about to the church and to me?
  1. How do I keep a solid perspective on my own spiritual life and identity in Christ?  So much of me is ‘bought in’ to the role of church planter.  Sometimes that’s all I can see of myself.  How do I give myself fully to my calling without giving myself ‘fully’ to it?
  1. Everyone wants to be close to me relationally.  Is that possible?  What does my personal life need to look like as it relates to my spouse, children and personal friends?  Do pastors have a personal life?
  1. In difficult times, what do the people really need from me… honest realism or hopeful idealism?  Am I convincing that everything is going to be OK, or do I clearly share everything that has gone or could go wrong?  How do I know when to communicate these things?
  1. What would a group collectively driven by a united mission really look like?  Assuming there are many variables to this, how do you lead toward the right variable?
  1. How do I know when to stay?  How do I know when to leave?  What are the wise motivators in this particular decision?
  1. What does the new church ultimately need from me?  What should be my ultimate priorities as a church planter?  What are the investments that I must make?
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