The single greatest mistake that you can make when you plant a church…. plant with an equal partner.
In Part One of this Post, I explained two reasons why planting a church with an equal partner is a bad idea. Here are two more reasons to take a different path when planting a church.
3. You have only begun to know your giftedness
Many young church planters believe that they understand their giftedness. Being thrown into the fire of Church Planting, however, brings to light strengths and weaknesses in a whole new way. Even a planter with several years of full-time ministry experience will grow immensely in his understanding of his giftedness, strengths, and weaknesses in the first few years of a church plant. This knowledge creates another challenge to planting a church with an equal partner. Prior to planting a church, it is difficult to determine whether or not the gift sets of two men are even remotely well-matched. Two men planting a church together as equal partners are making a long-term commitment to each other and to a church plant. But they most often do not have enough awareness of their giftedness, strengths, or weaknesses to enter a long-term “marriage” with an equal partner. Three years into a church plant, many men who planted with an equal partner would not make the same decision again.
4. Who really needs to be paid three years from now?
Prior to planting, it is difficult to determine what kind of staffing a church plant will need as it contextualizes and grows. At first an equal partnership might seem like a great plan for a new church plant. But the partner that seems like the perfect staffing fit at the beginning of a church plant often seems like a horrible fit three years later. Rather than having a fixed multi-year staffing plan it is much better to have staffing flexibility in the first few years of a church plant. A commitment to pay two equal partners in a church plant takes away the ability to contextualize staffing as the church grows. As you plant the church, learn your strengths and weaknesses, learn more about your community and its needs, you will then know how to best staff the church. Don’t lock yourself into an equal partnership prior to even learning these things. Don’t plant with an equal partner! You will often find that your church plant needs staffing of a completely different kind than you thought prior to planting. Tom Nebel and Gary Rohrmayer in their excellent book, Church Planting Landmines state that “Church Planting is a Benevolent Dictatorship.” They are right. Plurality is the goal, but it takes a while to get there.