In the business world, it is both known and expected that entrepreneurs often repeatedly fail on the way to success. In the Church planting world, failure seems to suck the soul out of the church planter. I know of many church plants that have not survived. I have personally helped to shut down several church plants. And I have never seen a more beaten group of men than those who don’t survive church planting. Church planters, whose churches do not survive, often feel like complete failures and fear that they might never be effective again in ministry leadership. But this is not the truth. Do you feel like a failure because the church you planted did not survive? Consider these words of advice:
1. Stop taking all of the credit for the Church Plant’s demise.
There are a lot of reasons that church plants don’t survive. When a church plant is successful, it is often the culmination of several things that come together at the same time. Sure, You made a lot of mistakes. But I have never met a church planter who has not made a lot of mistakes. Some of the most successful church plants have leaders who have made dozens of mistakes, and yet the church has still thrived. You didn’t single-handedly kill the church with your lack of giftedness or your leadership missteps.
2. Your Church Planting experience is exactly what God had for you.
God’s definition of success and mine often don’t match. God’s plan for you did not include you being the next mega-church pastor. But God’s plan for you was exactly what happened in your church planting experience.
3. Consider the lives of the people who were changed along your temporary church planting journey.
Is a “failed” church plant really a failure? Perhaps the way that we define success is all wrong. Consider making a list of all of the people whose lives were changed as you attempted to plant the church. Is it not success that God used you to work in the life change for these people?
4. Reflect on all of the things that you learned through your church planting experience.
It is likely that one of the greatest learning experiences of your life was your church planting journey. Make a list of all of the things that you learned along the way. What did God do in your life? In your marriage? In your leadership? How might God use these life lessons in your future ministry? Perhaps success for you has more to do with how God grew you than the church plant surviving.
5. Your identity is not found in whether or not the Church plant survived.
Your identity is not “Church Planter.” You are a son of God, chosen before time, adopted into God’s family, with all of the rights of eternal inheritance. (Ephesians 1) You may be a husband and a father. You are not a failure. Your true identity has not suffered because your church plant didn’t survive.
6. Your Church Planting experience is not the totality of or the end of your ministry fruitfulness.
I meet many men whose church plants have not survived that forget how effective they were in ministry prior to their church planting experience. With this experience behind you, how much more can God use you having completed this amazing church plating journey. You have not been thrown out in the trash. You have not been set on the shelf. You are exactly where God wants you. He has gifted you and will use you if you are willing. So find a church and use your gifts!
7. Failure is not a permanent condition. So pick yourself up and get going again.
Entrepreneurs know this. Church planters need to know it as well.
What would you add to this list? Feel free to comment!
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