My son wants to be a professional soccer player when he grows up. For several years before that he wanted to be an astronaut. I don’t have the heart to tell him that he’ll probably never do either. He’s my son, after all. Church planters can have the same idealistic notions as a bright-eyed five-year-old. We want to honor God, see the lost saved, make disciples and establish a church. And, to top it off, we want to do it with a team of people who we love and who love us. Without question, these are good dreams. But, between the dreamer and the realization of these dreams stand hundreds of decisions that will shape the long-term trajectory of the church plant. A kid does not become a professional soccer player overnight, nor does a young leader wake up one morning and see all his church planting dreams come true. One such decision is the construction of your church planting team. Ideally, no church planter goes into this venture alone. We take with us a diverse team of leaders capable to partnering together to pioneer a new work. For this to happen, the church planter must consider how those on his team will live in a new city and provide for themselves and their family. If not, the planting team will quickly dissolve and the church planting work will be hindered. How can a lead planter go about ensuring that his planting team is funded for the work God has put before them?
A kid does not become a professional soccer player overnight, nor does a young leader wake up one morning and see all his church planting dreams come true.
The select few may answer this question through support from outside donors. While this plan may work for one or two members of the team, it is unlikely to sustain more than a couple of individuals. And, once the support dries up, the planting team will face the daunting challenge of paying for the staffing needs through the giving of the church. Imagine the stress if, at the two year mark, four of your team members who have been supported through outside donors are now looking to the newly formed church to pay their salaries. The growth curve of most church plants will not sustain this type of financial burden that quickly. For most, the answer will come by connecting their teammates to meaningful marketplace jobs in the city that can meet their financial needs and allow the church time to add vocational staff members at the right time. Certainly any job is better than no job, but if I were heading to a new city with a team, here are a few things I’d want in a job:
Find a job in a strategic location
Define, as best you can, the epicenter of your church-planting mission, and find a job that will allow you to have a meaningful presence in that sphere.
Try to find work that allows you to make connections with believers and non-believers alike–both will prove valuable for strategic inroads to the city.
Find a job that facilitates relationships
Driving a forklift in a warehouse in the middle of the night is vastly different than waiting tables at a locally owned, downtown restaurant. Try to find work that allows you to make connections with believers and non-believers alike–both will prove valuable for strategic inroads to the city.
Find a job with long-term viability
Since there is so much uncertainty with the growth of a church plant, find a job that you can stay in for a while. Ideally, the job would be one that you could scale back to part-time or semi part-time as the church progresses and is able to add staff.
Find a job with flexible hours
Those who are pastoring the young church will need time flexibility to attend meetings and provide pastoral care in critical times. Finding a flexible job with an understanding boss will make this much easier.
Jobs aren’t just jobs. They are outlets of worship, influence and connections that God will use to build His church.
Find a job with connections to other healthy churches
If you are going to a city with another healthy church, that’s where I’d start. Often business owners with a heart for church planting will understand your needs and help you find work.
Find a job that paves the way for others
Ideally, you won’t be the last church planters in your city. Hard work and integrity will make it easier for these same businesses to hire your interns, residents, or future church planters down the road. Jobs aren’t just jobs. They are outlets of worship, influence and connections that God will use to build His church. Strategic jobs are another in a long line of critical decisions that will bring you one step closer to the realization of your church-planting dream.
Published January 21, 2016