In addition to all of the previously described burdens a church replanter voluntarily carriers, he also carries the weight of being under-resourced. A sound system that works every week, a projector that doesn’t take the better half of a day to turn on and a working furnace may not sound exactly like luxuries for most pastors, but for many replanters, that is precisely what they are. For the replanter, creative implementation of resources is a daily activity; he must have the wherewithal to keep the church functioning (flourishing, really) at a reasonable level with less-than-reasonable resources and manpower. Dying and declining churches are in the condition they are in because of gaping holes that exist—be it holes in the church’s theology, polity, staff, administration, finances or even the facilities—and the replanter is one who comes in to see that those holes get filled.
Because of the poor conditions of the church he has been entrusted over, the replanter must where many hats; he must be a resourceful generalist of sorts. A replanter is by definition one who takes on the responsibilities of a pastor, and then some. Keep in mind that nowhere in the biblical outline of a pastor do we see the job description of treasurer, accountant, administrator or custodian. But someone who is willing to take on the weighty responsibility of replanting a church recognizes that these areas are often either poorly operated, or are ignored altogether, and he must therefore be more than a pastor for a season. No pastor can be all of these things forever, but every replanter must be at least some of these things (more often than not, all of them) for a time; and some replants may necessitate for the replanter to wear many hats for longer than he had originally anticipated.
The call for a replanter to be a resourceful generalist is therefore a call for endurance; it is a call to keep passages like 2 Timothy 2:3, Hebrews 12:1, and 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 perpetually at the forefront of his mind. He must remain in these roles until he can raise the funds to hire additional staff, or (as is most often the case) until he can train up existing members and volunteers to fill these positions. All this he must do while simultaneously performing the intrinsic duties of a pastor. He must find time to clean and stock the bathrooms, and he must also find time feed his own soul with Scripture and biblically, theologically enriching books. He must find time solve problems in the budget, and he must also find time to solve the textual problems of the passage he is planning to preach on. He must find time to craft missing policies for the church constitution, and he must also find time to craft scripturally faithful sermons. He must find time deposit the weekly tithes into the bank, and he must also find time to deposit the truth of God’s Word into the life of his congregation. In addition to knowing what to do about that aggravating furnace, a replanter also must know what to do about a member’s struggle with sin, or death of a loved one, or difficult boss or how the Bible interprets the culture around the church. And (this is important) the replanter must fulfill these extra-pastoral tasks with the same joy and enthusiasm that he has when fulfilling his pastoral labors of love. He must be the trend setter of sorts—creating a culture in which toilet paper stocking can be done as joyful, God-honoring worship.
This is not to say that a replanter must be a fully functional expert in all of these respective areas. Being a resourceful generalist does not require omniscience. What it does require is the ability to search out and discover. A replanter doesn’t need to know all of the answers to all of these extra-pastoral problems, but he does need to know how to find the answers, or at least how to find someone who does. This, however, doesn’t remove the burden the resourceful generalist carries; he may not be the expert on every area in the church, but he is the person who is ultimately getting things done, and that is heavy.
A replanter, more than an ordinary pastor, must have the ability to be stretched far without being stretched thin. This is no easy task, not only because a replanter must perform well in many roles for a long time with little visible effort, but also because this fact is likely to be recognized by no one. In other words, not only does the replanter fight the internal uphill battle of doubt and discouragement on account of the church’s tortes-paced growth towards health and vitality, he often has the additional hindrance of fighting this battle without any encouragement from his congregation—or worse yet, his internal uphill struggle is inclined by the complaints of his people. A man must know all of this before signing up to be a replanter, for if he can’t effectively be a resourceful generalist, he will be absent of a non-negotiable characteristic of a replanter.
Published July 18, 2016