One of the most discouraging aspects of planting churches is the fact that most people who start with you leave early on. There are several reasons why this happens:
- Unmet expectations.
- Physical fatigue.
Some people just aren’t called to be with you for the long term. God might be using you to develop them for the next church they attend.
Sometimes people have their own agendas that just don’t fit with what you are doing. They can’t stay if they can’t get you to plant “their” church. You’d be crazy to try and get these people to stay.
So what do you do? Brace yourself. Many churches will see an annual turnover rate of 25%. That isn’t uncommon, so don’t be surprised if it happens to you. Try to walk securely in God’s will by developing mentors and leaders around you as well as outside of the church. This will help you maintain perspective. Most of all, maintain perspective by focusing on the fact that God has many people who will be joining you who aren’t there yet!
I have often asked myself if it’s just me or does everyone else lose good friends in the process of planting a church? And when you are planting do you get closer than usual to your people? This is painful stuff. I have been leading for more than thirty-five years and have been in on planting at one level of leadership or another approximately 150 churches. It still catches me off guard when major supporters bail out. And it hurts.
Every once in a while you stumble upon a miracle. In my most “successful” church plant I had a dozen of the original fourteen people “founders” of the church with me after eighteen years. It is possible to be surprised! Maybe these people stayed with me because I didn’t really “need” them to stay. Wouldn’t that be amazing!
Doug Murren is the senior pastor of New Heights Church in Boise, Idaho. He is the author of a number of books. Visit his web site at DougMurren.com.