Recently I was asked to describe what I would do differently if I were to start church planting again. Here was my response.
If I were to start over knowing what I know now, what would I do differently?
1. Begin in the Harvest and Start Small.
Don’t start with a team of already saved Christians. We think that having a bigger and better team will accelerate the work, and it doesn’t. In fact, it has the opposite effect. It is better to have a team of two, and the right two makes the work even better: and apostle and prophet together will lay the foundation of a movement. The churches birthed out of transformed lives are healthier, reproductive and growing faster. It is about this- a life changed, not about the model. Never forget that!
2. Allow God to Build Around Others
Don’t start in your own home…find a person of peace and start in their home! Read Matt. 10/Luke 10…and do it!
3. Empower Others from the Start
Don’t lead too much…let the new believers do the work of the ministry without your imposed control. Let the excitement of a new life carry the movement rather than your intelligence and persuasiveness.
4. Let Scripture Lead Not Your Assumptions
Question all your ministry assumptions in light of Scripture with courage and faith. There is nothing sacred but God’s Word and Spirit in us…let them lead rather than your own experience, teachings, and tradition.
5. Rethink Leadership
The Christian life is a process. There is not a ceiling of maturity that people need to break through to lead. Set them loose immediately and walk with them through the process for a while. Leadership recruitment is a dead end. We are all recruiting from the same pond and it is getting shallower and shallower. Leadership farming is what is needed. Any leadership development system that doesn’t start with the lost is starting in the wrong place. Start at the beginning and begin with the end in mind. Mentor life on life and walk with them through their growth in being, doing and knowing. The end is not an accumulated knowledge but a life of obedience that will be willing to die for Jesus. The process isn’t over until there is a flat-line on the screen next to their bed.
6. Immediate Obedience in Baptism
Baptize quickly and publicly and let the one doing the evangelizing do the baptizing. The Bible doesn’t command us to be baptized, but to be baptizers. It is absolutely foolish the way we hold the Great Commission over our people and then exclude them from obeying it at the same time! We need to let the new convert imprint upon the Lord for protection, provision, training and leading, rather than upon men.
7. Settle “Your” Ownership Issues
Stop being concerned about whether “Your” church plant will succeed or not. It isn’t “yours” in the first place. Your reputation is not the one on the line…Jesus’ is. He will do a good job if we let him. If we have our own identity and reputation at stake in the work we will tend to take command. Big mistake. Let Jesus get the glory and put his reputation on the line…He can take care of Himself without your help!”
©2011 Neil Cole