Everywhere I go to minister, even conferences I just go to sit and rest and be fed, I always get asked the same two questions, firstly, how do I get on TV, and secondly, how do I start a church, or sometimes from a pastor who has a church but didn’t start it, how do I start a second church.
The TV question is hard to answer because it was totally supernatural, ai can give advice but not comprehensive advice. But in terms of church planting, on the weekend we open church number 6 in the Tree of Life Family, here are 5 things I would advice any new church planter:
1. Always keep your focus on home base. The invites to travel seem so fun, so easy, and visiting speakers are like the cool Uncle, it can seem much easier than fathering. But if you are church planter, you are called to a father, don’t swap that for cool Uncle. Focus on home. For nearly five years, until Lee and Richard were ready to hold the Fort, I didn’t travel. Even now, you would be amazed how often I fly somewhere Monday, minister and fly home for Saturday to be ready for Dagenham. Especially when a church is young, it needs it’s father around. Even if you have a guest speaker, stay around and listen. Model how to listen to a sermon to your church.
2. Make disciples. That sounds really nebulous, but what it means is to have people copy you and do what you are doing. When you are counting the money, praying in tongues, preparing a sermon, putting chairs out, welcoming new people. Break the task down into steps and teach and model the steps and show people how to do it. The highest level of leadership is to lead people into being leaders, when you show them how to make their own disciples. This is not easy, it takes time. Welcome to church planting.
3. Learn the skill of building culture. Culture is what you celebrate, tolerate and castigate. Of these three, the most important of these is celebration. When someone acts in a 2ay you want the church to be, maybe takes a guest out to lunch after the service, visits one of their house group in hospital, goes and got a job, whatever it is, celebrate it. We always celebrate when someone ministers to the sick so we have a culture of ministering to the sick from everyone in the church. That did not happen by accident.
4. Never ever compare yourself to others. That leads to envy, strife and all evil. Rejoice with those who rejoice. When people are visibly doing better than you, rejoice. When people are visibly doing worse than you, secretly send them money. But you have never been in their shoes, so don’t judge.
5. Don’t copy another ministry. Learn from all of them, of course be humble and tender. But don’t try and operate in another man’s grace! Your value is not in your ability to be a clone, your value is in your uniqueness. People come to Tree of Life because I am not like any other pastor in town!