19 Years. 19 Takeaways. [Lessons From a Church Planter]

It’s hard for me to believe that I have been pastoring the same church for more than 19 years. I could probably publish a book called How Not To Plant A Church, but I honestly wouldn’t trade any of my experiences. These experiences include numerous valuable lessons and more joys than I have room to post in this blog. Yes, church planting and pastoring is worth the cost!

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1. You don’t know everything. In fact, you don’t know enough—so surround yourself with leaders who are smarter than you.

2. You can’t do everything—especially if you want to lead your church through growth barriers.

3. You can’t be friends with everybody—but it’s vital to have a healthy small group you trust and can do life with.

4. Don’t implement change to please an individual/family, especially if that individual/family is waving a checkbook.

5. Be teachable—and build your team with those who are teachable.

6. When pride walks on the stage, Jesus walks off the stage.

7. Transparency is a strength, not a weakness.

8. When people you have invested in leave your church—it hurts. You’re not supposed to take it personal, but you will. You will come to understand that sometimes God sends the “right” people to you only for a season. 

9. Your wife and children should never have to live up to unrealistic expectations that you haven’t agreed to. In other words, the church doesn’t own your family. 

10. It really is possible for your kids to grow up loving Jesus and His Church.

11. Don’t evaluate the success/failure of your church/ministry by scrolling your Instagram feed on Sunday afternoons and/or Monday mornings. And don’t base your success on how big or small your church is. To quote Rick Warren, “Bigger’s not better. Smaller’s not better. Better’s better. Be better.”

12. When someone wants to meet with you and begins the conversation with, “Don’t worry. We’re not leaving the church,” what they really mean is that they are getting ready to leave your church. 

13. Never make a crucial decision because “one” person came to you with a complaint saying, “Everyone is saying (insert something critical)…” — especially if that “one” person isn’t willing to tell you who “everyone” is. And never ever respond to criticism that is from an anonymous source. 

14. Jesus will still bless your church in spite of your sin and shortcomings—but character and integrity will take you further.

15. Sunday naps are worth more than money. Rest. Jesus commands it. 

16. If someone posts anything they consider noteworthy on Facebook (hospital stay, special event, etc.)—they will assume you saw/read the post and will be offended when you don’t show up. And since I’m now talking about Facebook, let me just say that you will be unfriended for multiple reasons, some of which will baffle you. In fact, a lot of the people who unfriend you will request you again in the future and you will think to yourself, “I thought we were already friends.”

17. Sometimes multiplication comes by subtraction. [Thank you, Jim Powell.]

18. Spend most of your time shepherding the sheep who stay than chasing the sheep who left. (Yes, you still have to occasionally leave the 99 to go after the 1.)

19. Never compromise your vision. Ever.

Honorable mention (should be automatic): Spend lots of time with Jesus and drink lots of coffee. As Mark Batterson would say: “The Holy Spirit + Caffeine = Awesome.” 

Final Encouragement

Ministry is rewarding in multiple ways, but there are seasons that are lonely and even gut-wrenching. Remember, just three days after being rescued from slavery and being miraculously led through the Red Sea, the Israelites turned against Moses.

God has your back. Keep leading. 

“So guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his own blood—over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as leaders.” ~Acts 20:28 (NLT)

Keep Leading

5 Thoughts

  1. Really loved these thoughts and have to second this one : God has your back. Keep leading! You and Annette are so great and we are blessed to know you and be a part of RC.

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