I recently had conversations with five church planters from four different states to gather as much wisdom as I could from their church planting experiences. As a guy who is preparing to plant a church next year, I’m blessed to be able to learn and grow from those who are currently in the trenches. I look up to these men, and I’m thankful for how God is using each one of them in a Kingdom way.
In each conversation, I asked a form of the following questions:
- What struggles/challenges did you face in planting?
- Is there anything you would go back and do over?
- What should be my first priority upon arrival?
- What was the biggest surprise you experienced?
- What books would you recommend as must reads?
Everything these men shared with me would compile an entire book. So for the sake of this blog, let me share with some highlight quotes. I’ve bolded my personal favorite quote from each planter.
Thabiti Anyabwile – planted Anacostia River Church (Washington, D.C.) in 2015.
- “It’s paramount that you have a close, personal walk with the Lord.”
- “Be patient in identifying a team. Make sure you have shared values.”
- “Ministry is draining. It’s important to build in rhythms of rest and refreshment.”
- “Watch out for the temptation of unbelief. That is, asking, ‘Will our church make a difference in the community?'”
- “Pray together with your spouse and team regularly.”
- “Get in the streams of people’s lives.”
- “We are prayerful, but not afraid to take risk. We aren’t afraid to get it wrong.”
- Titus – “It’s the New Testament manual on church planting.”
- The Trellis and the Vine by Colin Marshal, Tony Payne
- Sensing Jesus by Zach Eshwine
John Herring – planted Refuge Church (Nixa, MO) in 2014.
- “I thought the biggest step of faith was moving here. It wasn’t. There were many things along the way where we had to take leaps of faith.”
- “I was coming to bring about life change in others. The biggest change was in me!”
- “There’s a fine line between being missional and stalking.”
- “My first priority was meeting people, meeting pastors, and meeting city leaders.”
- “I had to adjust my expectations to the community, instead of the expectations I brought with me.”
- Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley
- Talking to other church planters.
Darren Lemons – planted The Refuge Church (Terrell, TX) in 2011.
- “There will be seasons of good and bad. Be faithful and committed through the bad.”
- “Get involved in the community”
- “Everyone has seven spheres of influence. Find yours quickly.”
- “Be active in the local chamber and school district.”
- “We office at Starbucks.”
- “Don’t be afraid to teach about money.”
- “Keep looking at things with fresh eyes.”
- Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley
Brandon Cox – planted Grace Hills (Rogers, AR) in 2011.
- “Satan will attack your marriage like crazy the first year.”
- “Stay mean about the vision in a nice way.”
- “Commit to a thorough exegesis of your community.”
- “Cultivate a deeper love for your city.”
- “Ask, ‘What’s not being done around here?'”
- “If we wait around for excellence, we will never get anything done.”
- “Facebook ads are the most effective way to spread the word about your church dollar for dollar.”
- For the City by Matt Carter, Darin Patrick
- AND: The Gathered and Scattered Church by Hugh Halter, Matt Smay
Kyle Reno – planted The Summit Church (Conway, AR) in 2014.
- “Just be yourself. I’m not hipster.”
- “Have lots of lunches, and cast your vision.”
- “Pray your way forward.”
- “Prayer is not just something you preach. It’s something you practice.”
- “Be ready to adapt systems.”
- “What we did at 100 didn’t work at 200.”