Plants come in all shapes and sizes and so do church plants. I know of other church planters that God has really blessed (and they’ve worked their tails off). I’ve learned from watching and listening to them and I’ve also learned from just doing. Here’s the last of my list of things I’ve learned from planting a church.
Honesty really is the best policy
I think too often, people hide the truth (including pastors and churches). I’ve heard of way too many churches where the pastor, a deacon, or some other person in leadership is having an affair, and people know about it, but nobody wants to say anything about it or do anything about it so they ignore it. Or maybe somebody has a bad attitude or a bad habit that people choose to ignore instead of confront. We’ve had some hard decisions to make, but I’ve found that dealing directly and honestly and as openly as possible with them, is really the best approach. I remember a man who had been a regular part (and PARTner) at Discovery who kicked his wife and kid out of the house on Thursday and showed up at church on Sunday. I found him and asked what the heck he was thinking acting like that. He asked if I wanted him to leave church and I told him no, I wanted him to stop sinning and being a jerk and repent and stay at church because he needed the help. He left anyways. Another person was having an affair (complete with an unborn child to prove it) with a married person and wondered why we wouldn’t baptize them. We had to tell ’em it was because they were living in active sin and if they didn’t stop, we’d have to take the next steps in church discipline. They chose to “justify” their actions, make us the bad guy and to leave instead of repent. The thing is, the remaining congregation is aware of what happened and knows and respects the truth – even when they don’t like to hear it. After all, didn’t I hear someone once say, “The truth shall set you free…”?
Little things matter
I stumbled on this one, but it seems so obvious now. It’s the little things that matter because they show that we thought ahead and we care. People are weirded-out that we roll out a literal red carpet on Sundays some times. They save the handwritten notes they get from myself and staff and staff wives. They share details of their lives because they know that we really do pray for them every week. We usually serve homemade breakfast on Sundays. Why, because the little things really do matter. It matters that the stage is clean, the curtains are lined up, the sound is good and the chairs are spaced right. Think differently – try having a messy stage, bad sound and disorganized chairs some week and see if anybody notices. I can guarantee some will. I’m not the best at encouraging people so I really need to work at it, but I know that even a simple “thank you” matters and a “great job” can keep someone going for another 3 months. And this lesson has transferred over into my family – I play more, allow more interruptions, and try to do more surprises. Why? Because little things matter.