So I took a few weeks off from blogging, but I wanted to continue the second part of the previous post on lessons I learned from church planting. Missionary work, from my perspective, is probably the single most difficult job on the face of the earth, yet it’s the most rewarding for sure. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, like seeing someone come alive after receiving Christ as their Lord and Savior or watching a marriage get restored or a single parent get on their feet financially. Yet in the midst of these scattered glimpses of fruit, there is hardship, lack of resources, consistent rejection and loneliness. Of the apostle Paul’s ministry he said, “we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.” (1 Cor. 4:13)
When I read these words I was stunned at the apparent perception of Paul’s apostolic ministry compared to the quasi-celebrity status many so called apostles seem to portray today. Is there something different about our world or has our message been twisted in some way to mean something different that has resulted in something more palatable or welcomed. My point is that ministry is hard work and just the pressure from ministry is enough to crush those of us who are not steadfast in God’s Word and in prayer and connected to the vine.
I am no professional or expert church planter, in fact, I am sharing these observations from being an associate leader who has come along side church planters and apostolic ministries to help them establish strong, effective communities. In addition to the few points I’ve already pointed out, here are some additional lessons I’ve learned over the course of the past few years:
1. You have need of endurance. (Heb. 10:36)
In the fire of persecution, trial and suffering we must continue in faith. I am a sprinter, my wife is a long distance runner. That’s why God has paired us together. When I am loosing my wind in the middle of the race, my wife is there to drop back and spur me on to finish. I have always told people, its not how you fly the plane, but how you land. Many of us just want to give up, leave the ministry and go back to our workplace and become an insurance salesman. You must have your eyes fixed on the eternal perspective, the end, finishing well.
2. Prayer is the foundation to your ministry.
If you have limited to no prayer life, you are operating out of the flesh. When you operate in the flesh, you will manifest the works of the flesh which are clear, anger, frustration, worry, anxiety, greed and selfishness. Prayer kills your flesh and nourishes your spirit man. Your connection with Jesus through prayer is vital to being able to have power and substance that the people you minister to will need. Many of us know we need to pray more, but just don’t do it. Trust me, if you do not SCHEDULE prayer, you will not have a quality prayer life.
3. Fail to plan, plan to fail.
You must plan. Some of us are so spiritual that we feel like any type of planning is not relying upon the Holy Spirit. I’ve had to learn this lesson myself being a prophet. Prophets enjoy being spontaneous, spirit led and spur of the moment in our ministry, which is needed. However, if you fail to plan anything you might just find yourself going around in circles. Plan your day, seize the opportunities in front of you. Work hard for the Gospel, it will pay off. Put your goals in writing and create objectives that will help you accomplish those goals with a time frame that is realistic. Not only will you see more results, but you will feel better about accomplishing something that can be measured and seen.
4. Guard your marriage and family.
Church begins at home. I’ve always been shocked to look underneath church leaders lives to see a lack of attention given to family life and their wives. Usually its the families that suffer most with ministries who are driven and passionate about the Lord. You do not want to look down the road 10 years from now and see your wife and children dying relationally, yet you have a successful, thriving church. You will be a miserable failure. You must learn to say no to appointments, keep your commitments to your children and continue to date your wife. Your wife and kids are your biggest supporters in ministry and you need to be able to look them in the eyes with full confidence while you’re preaching on Sunday morning.
If you’re reading this now and are a budding church planter that needs coaching, encouragement or would like to discuss some of these lessons by phone, Skype or in person, please don’t hesitate to reach out to myself and my team. We are here to serve the Body of Christ both locally and at large. You can email me or connect with our Facebook page. We offer one on one leadership coaching and small group leadership training for those that would like to be stirred and challenged in your ministry.