What I Would Tell Young Pastors

I’m encouraged and challenged about the church planting movement that seems to be growing over the last couple of years.  Ten years ago, I didn’t know of that many church plants, and today, I see them popping up all over the place.  Guys are going to metro areas, rural towns and suburbs to start new churches in order to reach people far from God.  We’re seeing that we don’t have to go to Eastern Europe or China to be missionaries – that if you were to take all the unchurched people in America and put them together, it would be the world’s 11th largest country.  We are missionaries right here at home.

We started Oak Leaf Church to reach out to the 60,000 unchurched people in and around Cartersville, Georgia.  Our missions is to lead people from where they are to where God wants them to be.  In 17 months, we’ve grown to 900 people and we’ve seen God do some amazing things.  This success is all from God and has very little to do with what we’ve done.  We’re honored that people would look to us for guidance and help.  Here are some of the things that I would challenge a young pastor in ministry (which seems odd to write, because I’m a young pastor!), especially those launching out to start churches.

1.  You can grow a church without God.  I heard John Piper say that the church should be a sailboat, not a motor boat.  The fact is that a lot of passionate guys can attract a crowd and start a church all on their own power.  You can advertise, market and be relevant, and that will get some attention.  But don’t focus on those things…focus on being the Christian, Pastor and church that God wants you to be.

2.  The church belongs to God.
  I see a lot of guys go plant churches because they don’t like working for somebody else.  That’s pride!  Don’t think that planting a church means that nobody can tell you how to do ministry.  If you go into it with that framework, you’ll fail.  Jesus said He would build His church.  He can do that without you.

3.  Focus on having a good service. 
The Sunday service will be most people’s experience with your church.  You can spend thousands of dollars and invest a ton relationally in people, but if they come to the church service and it stinks, they will not come back.  As a Lead Pastor/Church Planter, you can’t delegate the effectiveness of that service to a worship leader or tech guy.  YOU are the one that is responsible for making Sunday great.  Spend time on Sunday.  Spend money on Sunday.  You have to create the environment.  Eventually, other people will catch the vision and understand it all, but early on, it’s YOU.

4.  Teach God’s Word because you have something to say.  I know a lot of people provide sermons and resources, and I think that’s great.  Use these as references tools.  I don’t teach canned messages because God has given me something to say.  I have a passion for helping people understand God and follow Him with their life.  Preaching Rick Warren’s messages or preaching someone elses podcast is lazy.  I’m not saying don’t listen or watch or learn from this…there aren’t that many original thoughts.  I am saying don’t take the easy way out, and listen for what GOD wants to tell the people.

5.  Understand marketing and advertising.  This is not an unspiritual practice.  Early on, I read as many business, marketing and advertising books as I did church planting books.  Just like history, or biology or English can help you…so can principles of advertising.  I’d recommend books like Make To Stick, Buzz Marketing and PyroMarketing.  Figure out creative and strategic ways to get the word out about your church.  Don’t do what everybody else does.  Learn your area and then learn how to create buzz.  Don’t you want people to find out about your church and attend?  And when they do that, because you have worked hard at #3 above, they will stick around.


1 comment so far

  1. Jason on

    I like your list…one thing I might add is “Commit to the long haul” Just doing something different might attract a crowd for a little while, but a commitment to change the community landscape takes time. Invest in the church, the people that come and in the neighborhood/area/region you are. I think that’s why so many are adding multiple sites.

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