“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Monday, July 27, 2009

Friends

I realize that I have posted on some of these topics before, but as I have changed and grown (hopefully), I wanted to repost some thoughts. So, as you may remember, my first question on the last post was:

How many friends do you have to lose while attempting to do the right thing?

Answer - I have no idea -- but I do know that this can be debilitating for a small-church plant/pastor.

Many people go into church-planting with a pastor/friend that they know and trust. Sadly, all too often, the idea of starting a church, or planting one, is romanticized by all involved. Their motivation might be that they will finally have a church in which they can contribute at a level they desire. Or, it may be that they came out of a broken church and finally have a chance to 'do it right'.

There may be many motivating factors, but what I have found to be true in most cases is that the people are not united in their desire to plant a church for God's glory. And when a pastor and the people around him are not united in that goal - the fallout is usually numbered in friendships.

In our case, none of us really knew what we were doing -- we truly wanted to do the right thing, but because so much of our initial impetus was emotion, the right thing was not the SAME thing in everyone's mind.

Therefore, as the church became more 'traditional' in it's perspective, many people left or had a change of heart, usually taken out on the pastor, because the church was no longer unique, or to use a more realistic, but baser word, the church had ceased to be 'fun' for those involved.

Now, to be fair -- as the pastor, I too struggled with the exact same emotions, and it truly was not until I REALLY read the Bible and spent time in prayer with fellow elders, and sat at the feet (figuratively) of many great teachers that I even had an inkling of what the church is really all about.

I was eaten up with making the church in my image, just as much as the others were bent on making it in their image -- no one was innocent on this. But, what finally prevailed was the overriding desire to honor and glorify God, and lift Christ up so that all men would be drawn to Him -- and that was a consensus that the church came to together.

I have lost a lot less friends in recent years, and I would encourage the small-church pastor to really plan and think about his church BEFORE planting, or even taking an existing one on. Ensure that you understand the purpose of the church, and the perspective of the congregation. Do not over commit on anything until you have a clear and detailed idea of what the church needs to do to get to the place of a God-honoring institution.

The church is a place where God's people come together to worship and honor their Lord, and a place where the visitor and/or lost will hear a clear and consistent proclamation of the wonderful, soul-freeing gospel weekly. The messages will be Christ-centered and not man-centered, the families will be drawn together to worship, not split into thousands of shards that have nothing to do with one another, and the music will be God-honoring, and Christ-centered -- not man-honoring and worldly-centered.

Surround yourself with people who understand what the church exists for, and weed out those who are looking to make a name for themselves. Find team-players who want to succeed to God's glory, and do not become a despot in your pastorate, but give those who have been gifted, a place in real ministry.

These are but a few common-sense ideas, nothing unique here -- but let me encourage small-church pastors who are ready to throw in the towel. If you will work at building a God-honoring church, and find others who want to work at that as well, you will lose fewer friends than I did..

May God bless your work!

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