Over the past week I have written a series of posts recommending that Church Planters not plant with an equal partner. This is final post of the series builds on my previous three posts.
Three Recommendations for Church Planters
1. Don’t Rush Leadership Plurality
Many of us who plant churches believe in plural leadership. We are committed to plurality because of the biblical teaching on elders. But I have seen so many church plants go sideways because of bad leadership decisions early on. Assembling an internal elder team two years into a church plant can force a planter to install men as elders who are not at all ready for this role. Assembling an elder team two years into a church plant is normally a recipe for disaster because giving the title of elder is a lot easier than taking it away. For all of you nay-saying plurality lovers, I am not recommending dictatorial leadership. Plurality is the goal but my point is that you don’t have to be there in 5 minutes. Follow the advisory team structure that I refer to in my previous post for your first several years. This will be your plurality. In time you will build local plurality as men are tested over a period of years. And Remember – Church planting is a ten-year adventure rather than a three-year adventure so slow down!
2. Hire Admin Help Prior to Ministry Staffing
John Maxwell used to say that the first person that a pastor should hire is an admin assistant. Seriously? Before any other hire? But think about it. Church planters do everything themselves. We pick up the mail, print bulletins, return every email, pay all of the bills, deal with the legal stuff, and all kinds of other things that we never learned to do in Seminary. Much of the work that we do as church planters has little to do with pastoring. By hiring some admin help early on you will free up a lot of hours to do pastoral ministry that you would otherwise spend doing 10-12 dollar an hour admin tasks. A church planter should spend as much time as possible doing ministry and delegate as much admin as possible to someone else who can do this. Invest a few hundred dollars a month in some admin help before paying another pastor a few thousand dollars a month. Paying for admin help costs far less than paying for ministry staff. Admin help: Inexpensive. Freeing up 15 hours a week to spend more time with people: Priceless.
3. Get a coach
Every Church Planter needs a Coach. Repeat: Every Church Planter needs a Coach. A good coach will walk alongside you in all aspects of church planting. A good coach will help you to balance life, health, work, ministry, and family and you plant the church. Every church planting network leader that I know sees the value of coaching. Dave Devries, Ed Stetzer, and Bob Logan have all written on this extensively. Ed Stetzter says:
“If you are planting a church you need a coach (yes, maybe even a paid one). The coach (or mentor) can help planters focus on goals and actions steps related to all 7 issues. I know that may overwhelm you, but you are investing in viability. How much will it cost you personally if the church plant closes? We all know that the cost goes far beyond dollars and cents for all involved.”