INITIAL LEADERSHIP FOR YOUR NEW CHURCH PLANT (Part II)
LOOKING FOR A LEADERSHIP TEAM?
Hopefully at this point you’re convinced from part one of this series that it would be a good idea to pray about the possibility of gathering an accountability board to help you as you plant your new church. But maybe at this point you’re wondering what to look for in potential board members. In part two of this series let me give you some points of practical wisdom in this area that I’ve gleaned through trial and error:
MEN WHO’VE GONE BEFORE YOU
First of all, you want to pray for at least one if not a couple seasoned men who can guide you who have planted a church before. Guys who have been through the gauntlet of church planting uniquely understand the challenges you’ll face. That’s not to say anything negative about pastors who haven’t planted the churches they pastor. I know that the church climate in the west today tends to treat pastors who haven’t specifically planted a church as sort of second rate pastors. That is stupid, to put it bluntly. There are good men who pastor churches who have never planted a church. These guys can help you a ton when the church is planted. But in some ways not all of them may be able to fully relate to the unique battles of actually planting a church from the ground up. Pray for the Lord to give you humble and helpful men who can serve you who have actually done the specific kind of work you are going to attempt.
I have transitioned into pastoring an existing church as well as planted a church from the ground up. While pastoring an existing church helped prepare me for some things I encountered in the process of planting, there were other challenges I faced that were totally new to me in planting a church. For one example, in the church I assumed leadership over, by-laws for the ministry were already written and the church had 501c3 status before I began leading. As a result, when I went out to plant a church I really didn’t know where to start in getting those things in place. I was glad to have a brother like Daniel Fusco in my advice corner who’d worked through those issues in his process of planting who could point me in the right direction.
A lot of guys who haven’t planted a church from scratch are like I was before planting. They haven’t thought about how the systems and infrastructure that exist in the churches they lead actually got put into place through the pastor who planted their church. Some will, but they seem to be the exception. So the point is, it is a good idea to pray for help from at least one or two guys who have gone through all the nuts and bolts of specifically starting churches who can help you out with good advice and direction.
“The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd.” –Ecclesiastes 12:11 NKJV
MEN WITH WISDOM IN DIFFERENT KEY AREAS
Second, pray for men who have wisdom in different key areas of ministry according to your context. Planting churches isn’t just about preaching the Word. That’s the main thing, but there are many other practical things with which you may need helpful wisdom when it comes to establishing local churches. I’d encourage you to seek elders who can serve as advisors in main areas.
If I had it to do over again, as someone who planted in the west I’d look for one guy that is great with business oversight, another who is good with systems for things like discipleship and ministry structure, a guy who is great on the pastoral shepherding side of ministry, and another guy who is great at preaching. A team like that could really give you some rounded encouragement, direction, and accountability for planting in a context like mine.
The specific areas in which you need insight will vary culture to culture. So the key is to determine what shape a local church needs to take to fit your culture, and then look for wisdom from others who are familiar with the practical needs you’ll have and the challenges you’ll face in that context who can advise you in how to bring that church shape to fruition as Jesus plants the church through you. Pray about it.
“Plans are established by counsel; by wise counsel wage war.” –Proverbs 20:18 NKJV
MEN WITH SIMILAR MISSIOLOGICAL VISION
Third, pray for men who share a similar missiological vision to yours. This way counsel you receive from your board will be moving down the same stream you’ve been called to float. You won’t find yourself hung up with them over missional strategy and amoral issues. For example, if you want to plant a church that is urban and nontraditional you may not want to have a guy on your board who leads a church that is rural and traditional. This isn’t always the case if you both think like contextualizing missionaries. You just want to make sure that the prospective accountability elder in such a case isn’t going to make a certain form or style of church an issue of right and wrong. If you partner with them and this type of thing happens you’ll end up either having to fire a friend for causing more barriers than being helpful, or you will end up with a guy who is a constant thorn in your side because you don’t have the guts to make the hard choice and take him off the team. Neither situation is desirable. Pray for guys who have a missionary vision similar to yours.
“Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” –Amos 3:3 NKJV
MEN WHO ARE ACCESSIBLE
Fourth, pray for men to whom you will generally have easy access. You want these guys to want to make time for you. You don’t want to have to bang down their door anytime you need to get some help. You will want guys who prayerfully agree upfront to conference with you in person at least once a month for a board meeting. It’s easy to include guys on your leadership team who live far away from you in prayer and discussions by way of media tools like Skype and other social network resources. No matter how it shakes out practically you mainly need to know that you’ll have appropriate access to your guys for help when you need it. Of course, never forget that even though all human advice be cut off from you, Jesus is with you always even to the end of the age.
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” – Proverbs 17:17 NKJV
MEN WHO PRAY
The true source of wisdom is the heart of God. We access His wisdom through His Word, and through prayer. It’s really tempting in church planting to only focus on “how-to’s” and practical stuff. We must never forget that sometimes the Spirit wants to do something that is beyond our logic and resources. So you want to first be a man who defaults to prayer over every mission decision, even if the thing to do seems obvious from a practical standpoint in a given situation. Likewise, you want men who will seek wisdom from God on how to advise you, not just their own logic.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…” –Proverbs 1:7 NKJV
“…Men always ought to pray, and not lose heart…” –Luke 18:1 NKJV
Lead Pastor, Refuge Church