It is 11:30am on Sunday morning. On a normal week at this time I’d be right in the middle of delivering the message to our 11am gathering. This week, however, I am sitting at home wishing I was with my church family and wondering how many people will show up at our gathering space this morning only to read a sign on the door saying we had to cancel services again at the last minute because of a conflict we only learned about Friday.
Such is church planting.
::CHURCH PLANTING & ADAPTABILITY::
Future church planter, you must develop the ability to be adaptable. It is a non-negotiable for church planting. You have to learn to flex at all times and in every direction. You have to be okay with switching directions at a moment’s notice. You have to be able to change the plan when it is least convenient.
You know what a long-term strategic plan is? Your best guess at predicting the future. That is all. The truth is you have no idea what the future holds. The future is unpredictable. The future is uncertain. In fact, about the only things you can be certain of is that planting a church is going to be very hard and that few things are going to go exactly according to plan. This means you are going to have to learn how to become a highly adaptable leader.
You are going to have to be adaptable:
…when you get the call on Friday letting you know your worship space is unavailable Sunday
…when your sponsoring church bails at the last minute and you are forced to cut the budget by over 50%
…when your sound system catches fire right before the service is supposed to begin
…when the single mom takes your love offering and spends it on breast enhancements
…when a homeless man walks in on Sunday and declares that he wants to be baptized
…when sin issues come out that threaten to shipwreck the whole thing
…when the family you never thought would leave tells you they are going to the church down the street
…when the huge financial giver decides they no longer agree with your vision and takes their tithe elsewhere
In those moments, you are going to have to ask yourself, “Do I really believe this is my church or Jesus’ church? Do I really believe that He rules over all this? Am I frustrated because I feel entitled to something I’m not getting in this moment? Do I really believe that leadership is primarily about serving? And if so, now how do I best serve Jesus, His people and my city in this moment?“
I am living proof that adaptability doesn’t have to come naturally, but it can be learned. Don’t get me wrong, like most church planting types I like change. But I want it on my terms. Because like most church planting types, I also like to do things my way. This is where the rubber meets the road for you, future church planter. Serving messy people in a messed up world is going to require you to lead from a place of constant adaptability. If it’s essentially about you – your vision, your leadership, your position, your plan, much of what will be asked of you in the moment will feel unacceptable. But if it’s about Jesus and what He wants to do in your city through His people, then you find it is your privilege to serve no matter how inconvenient or hard it may be at times.
If you are unwilling to do the internal work required to increase your adaptability quotient, please don’t try to plant a church.