A few years ago, Seth Godin released a book called The Dip. The book was beneficial for a pastor (that would be me) who enjoys the joys of starting new things but hates the process’s pain. The book’s point was to help leaders look at the cost of starting something new and determine if they are willing to endure the dip that the process will bring along the ways before they start. If you are going to plant or revitalize a church, you are being taught to expect difficulty. It’s one thing to think about the process and another to take these challenges seriously. There are some real obstacles you are going to have to push through.
There are lots of hard things about planting or revitalizing a church. Here are a few issues along the way I have had to push through…
- Fundraising / This is hard work before the work begins. Your dream needs funding. Working to build propper funding allows you to give more attention to doing the work of ministry instead of just paying the bills. You need a financial runway for the church and your family to give for freedom to focus. If you are not willing to walk through this obstacle, don’t plant because you will need this skill over and over in the future in different ways.
- Building Your First Team / When you plant or work on revitalization, you must gather the first team. This team will not be with you forever, but they will link arms to help you get to work. These relationships are important but building them will take longer than you think. Stay in prayer about the team you are building and the team you need in the future.
- Comparison / You can either try to imitate the church down the road through comparison, or you can build a new thing in your neighborhood. Comparison will kill your joy, and it’s brutally hard not to get stuck in the cycle of comparison and degrading self-talk as a leader. Instead of staying in comparison mode, start praying for the churches you long to be like.
- Lack of Resources / You are not going to have all the resources you want or need. This is the phase where we really learn to lead with faith and patient wisdom. This is both an obstacle and an opportunity for God to show off! You choose!
- People Leaving / There will come a time with people have to leave your church due to a move to find another church better for their family. That is totally normal but hard for our hearts as pastors. Don’t allow people leaving to keep you from setting the table for who God will bring.
- Tempting Shortcuts / There will be tempting areas to ignore and cut corners with to do something that needs immediate attention. Decide early what you value the most for your spiritual family, and don’t take shortcuts with those issues.
- Unmet Expectations / Things are not going to go like you think. How will you respond to that reality?
- Fatigue / This is a hard grind. Find a healthy pace and stick with it. Take your days off. Don’t answer every call. Don’t try to solve every problem. You serve God; you are not God.
If you can get through these, then you can get to the work of God making something new. God is doing a new thing, but there is a process to bringing something new into reality. It’s gonna take longer than you think, but it’s also going to be better than you expect.