Are you a ‘do-it-yourself’ ministry leader or a fan of ‘doing church as a team’? I tend to be a ‘do-it-yourself’ guy in most areas of my life. It is probably a control issue. I can control the beginning, the ending and the quality of something if I do it as a lone wolf. However, if I am in control of the beginning, end and quality of a ministry like a church plant then it doesn’t look much like God’s Church but more like my church…that isn’t a church.
Here I was…ready to move and plant a new church. I had a green light yet I was told by several mentors to make sure that I built a ‘church planting team’. Apparently, failure rates are substantially higher for church planting individuals vs. church planting teams. Some reasons for this are surely:
- The isolation that can come from planting.
- The accountability needed for anyone crazy enough to plant.
- The momentum that a team can provide.
Should I wait for a team to fall from the sky? Should I ask people to go with me? Should I trust that God would send people to my city as He was sending me? Back in the new beginnings of the church, Jesus’ disciples were also considering their need for team. Read about it here:
Acts 1:21-26 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
This group of people could have gone on but they didn’t…they realized their team was incomplete. Through prayer and discernment they waited for God to direct them to the right people for the right time.
Church Planting is a team sport not a one-on-one contest. We recognized that and prayed that God would send others with us. We invited others to go on the journey with us but nobody said yes. It turns out that we didn’t get to pick and pray the way the disciples did…we prayed and moved to our new city and then found out how God had orchestrated our team (actually, we are still discovering it). One family from Missouri, one from New Mexico and one that had moved here to be a part of another church plant 15 years ago…each of them had no idea they would get to go on this journey with us. Now, we gather often and celebrate how God orchestrated what we never could.
Just as the Christian Life is not meant to be done alone, ministry shouldn’t either. The Body of Christ is best equipped when it is assembled. Has God placed others in your life? Be thankful. Do you sense a need to do ministry as a team? Pray, invite and wait upon The Lord to build a team. Don’t be surprised if He does so in a way that is different than you would do it. Don’t be surprised if he fills your team with people that are different than you…that is probably what it will take to accomplish a God-sized vision like planting a church or leading a ministry.