What NOT to do as a church planter!'
1. The most important: Do nothing without speaking to your Daddy first.
So many times I have made the mistake of guessing to charging ahead without talking to our Father in heaven. It has caused a ton of heartache and pain. If I would have talked to Him first, He would guided my heart to better decisions or to the decision to wait on His work to be complete before He has me do anything. I have learned this a few times. I have allowed others to talk me into something only to have it blow up on me later. There is an incredible grace waiting on the Lord to direct your path and I have more than once learned it is better to be with God than to work against Him or for His blessing to be no where in site.
2. Grace does cover us and God blesses us whether I am faithful or not.
I have had a few people tell me that God will not bless unless I obey fully. BALONEY. God blesses who he wants when He wants and my blessings are not reliant on my obedience, they are reliant on the Lord, Jesus Christ. This striving to be perfect locks a person down to not walk in faith but walk in self ability. Please don't think that I am saying DON'T OBEY, because I AM NOT saying that. What I am proclaiming is that God's blessings are not reliant on you but Him. He blesses both the righteous and unrighteous. He gives to both the evil one and the good one. The last thing we need is to be walking around like we are on egg shells about to break one. Break some freakin' egg shells every once in a while. Stomp on those bad boys but do it in faith (what????). No, don't go on willfully sinning, but know that every decision you make is not going to be a right one. You are not always going to hear from God clearly and sometimes you have to step out on faith in hope that you are hearing from God and following His plan only to find out that you messed it up. Walk in Faith not in self strength. God can clean up and has cleaned up all of our messes. Trust Him to continue in this and walk trying to please Him.
3. Some people don't get it! So know when it is okay to let them wander!
It is not my job to convince and push people to obedience. It is my job to love people and to lead them to Jesus. There will be many people who don't get what you are leading them to or that they will choose to walk away from God in your discipling them. Don't beat yourself up. If you made a mistake, repent and ask both God and that person for forgiveness. If you didn't mess up, then pray for them and ask the Lord to intervene in their life and allow God to do His work. People will choose bad things and some will hurt, but trust the Lord through this process and allow His work in their hearts to happen. We don't always have to be the one that corrects them.
4. Listen, Listen, Listen and when you don't understand, listen some more!
Most of you know that I love to talk and that love gets in the way of listening. I have been working on this but fail in this area many times. I have made the mistake of speaking too fast and soon. I am learning that if I allow people to talk long enough, they will reveal to me the struggle or who they are. Many people that I thought had my best interest at heart really did not. I found that they had their best interest at heart or that they were not on board with our vision or direction. It took listening and not talking to teach me this.
5. Not everybody that smiles at me agrees with me!
Boy this one stings. So many times when I am speaking a smile or a nod will set my heart to happiness only later to find that the person was just sizing me up and about to take me out (okay maybe not as dramatic as I thought). People will say things to make you feel okay even if they don't mean it. They call it being polite, I call it being a jerk! (sorry, this is a struggle for me). Know that you must listen to people and spend time with them to find out what they really think about you and your leadership.
6. Church Planting is insanity, don't go insane!
Okay I might be a little over dramatic here to, but know that church planting is a hard unknown walk with the Lord. If you like having to figure out things every second of the day, welcome to the insanity. So many things that I took for granted that already existed in an established church are not there in a church plant. They have to be created by you, the Lord or both. Vision is given by God but guarded by men. DNA is created by those who join you but they all have different ideas about what it means to be a church. Little things like finding a meeting place can cause many sleepless nights. Trust the Lord through this and know that He has all of this worked out.
7. If you are not making disciples, you will not have a church.
Church planting is a direct result in disciple making. For a little while I forgot this. God invited me to make disciples not church plant. I know, I know I have been talking more about church planting than making disciples. Well, I have been communicating this backwards. Church planting is a product of disciple making. So concentrate on making disciples and worry less about when you will launch. If you don't have people you are discipling, starting the process of core team work will hurt and hurt you badly. Make disciples, that way you know who you have with you.
There are many other things I am learning but don't have the time to vent ... I mean type them out. Pray for us as we head into our third week of core team worship and that we have some major and minor decisions to follow God through. This has been one heck of a ride!