The “F” word of church planting

I look for a few qualities working in harmony within the potential church planter, and courage is a pivotal one of those qualities. While we certainly need the analytical and cautious side of our brain to keep us from imminent destruction daily, there is such a thing as too cautious. Often the driving motivator behind overly cautious personalities is fear. Fear of making mistakes, fear of failing, fear of doing the wrong thing, fears of all kinds, and my personal favorite, a fear of not doing “God’s will”.

“God’s will” is too often our crutch from fear, inactivity, and laziness in life.

Fear, this four letter “F” word, paralyzes church planting. Truth be told, it paralyzes all aspects of life in most settings. I first encountered a form of this particular fear in seminary. Having the privilege of teaching a wonderful group of young seminary families during the Sunday school hour at our church in Louisville and managing the book store at our seminary, I noticed that toward the end of a seminary student’s time at seminary there was a growing anxiety of what was next. They were at the precipice of leaping into the world that they and their families had invested time, energy, emotion, passion, and no small amount of money into. Imagine you go through law or medical school only to find yourself without a place to practice. We can swing on the trapeze, but it’s letting go that’s terrifying.

Moving from the theoretical to the practical in life and ministry can be terrifying, that’s why staying in the theoretical is so comfortable.

What you hope to do as a church planter is important, but having done similar things before is critical. Ministry is an overflow of life. Ministry isn’t something we do once we’ve been hired to do it. Church planting is way to difficult to think that this is the time for untested ideas as a rule. I’m part of a church plant in the Twin Cities. We’ve been researching and planning on what our door to door efforts should look like in today’s metro. It takes very little courage to plan and strategize, it takes courage to go do it. It takes even more courage to fail at doing it, dusting yourself off, and doing it again.

The church planter has to have a steady diet of courage, so fear must be put in it’s rightful place. Fear is good. Fear will keep you alive, but fear will also keep you from being alive.

BY JOSHUA WHETSTINE – NORTH AMERICAN MISSION BOARD CITY MISSIONARY FOR MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL.

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