Parenting is a lot like church planting. Both involve budgets, trying to balance life while not losing your mind, taking care of needy people, making sure you have a good place to call home, dealing with people who throw temper tantrums, all while trying to plan for the future and get along with the people you call “family.”
The church is less of an organization and more of an organism. It’s ever-evolving and growing, constantly flexing and changing. As you journey through different phases of church planting, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Don’t overlook while you’re looking ahead.
Currently, our kids are 12, 9, and 4 years old. One thing I noticed early in parenting is my tendency to want them to just get to the next stage, whether it involved walking, talking, sports, or whatever.
Just as parents should learn to embrace and love the stage their child is currently in, the same is true about your church. It won’t always be this way, so embrace it for what it is right now. You won’t always be able to know everyone’s names, your payroll budget won’t always just have one or two people on it, and you probably won’t always just preach once or twice per weekend. Whatever stage your church is at, since it’s Jesus’ church, you can rest in the reality that He is at work. Don’t overlook what God is doing while you’re looking ahead for what’s next!
Bigger/New/Next isn’t always better.
I love that our kids are now at ages where we can carry on intelligent conversations with them, pray with them, and play sports with them. But gone are the days where I could hold them in my arms or rock them to sleep. As our kids near their teens, our schedules are filling up and the line is blurring more and more between my role as dad and dance team chauffeur.
Early on in our church, I couldn’t wait for a bigger building, a bigger budget, and more people. I couldn’t wait to have offices to meet in that were not located at a Starbucks. I was excited for the day we could offer employee benefit packages. Now we’re there, and it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Don’t get me wrong – I’m thankful for it. But the reality is that “bigger” didn’t solve problems; it just came with bigger, more complicated problems! There’s a huge difference between renting 2,400 square feet and owning 32,000 square feet. A bigger budget provides more opportunities for ministry, but it requires a lot more work. I’m glad we have offices to meet in now, but we didn’t have to clean our offices at Starbucks, or paint them, or worry about a roof leak when it rained.
Bigger/New/Next isn’t necessarily better; it’s just different. Enjoy where you are. It won’t always be like this.
As a parent, it’s easier than we’d like to admit to miss out on key events in our kids’ lives simply because we’re working, planning, or preparing for something that seems bigger or more urgent at the time.
If you let it, your role as visionary leader in your church will take you away from being present in the moments and seasons your church is currently in. As the church grows, your leadership structure and systems will have to scale as well, making it harder to be in the details. There are many details you don’t need to be in, but don’t remove yourself completely. Embrace the seasons, stay in the ministry with people, and don’t lose sight of the privilege that ministry is – even when it’s messy.
K E V I N • M I L L E R
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