One of the best ways to honor your Sending Church is to be teachable throughout the whole planting process. This takes intentionality, and it’s necessary.
I get it. Do they? Or do I? At least that is how you feel some times. Some days you know the vision God has placed on your heart is going to come true, and some days you wonder if the vision was even from God in the first place. Being on the front lines of church planting is one of the most rewarding, yet the most draining, processes a person can go through. There are days we celebrate and days we wished for another calling but none of us who know God has called us to this work would ever want it any other way. Sometimes the best group to remind you of this is your Sending Church.
Your Sending Church can help you see through the fog of the unknown. For me, we were blessed to have two strong Sending Churches. Hope Church in Las Vegas, Nevada and Tri-Cities Baptist Church in Gray, Tennessee have both been vital in encouraging us to persevere and take the necessary steps in our vision as a church. In fact, I would go as far as to say, we wouldn’t be here without them. This gives me confidence to say that being teachable and seeking wisdom from our Sending Church is why we have been able to see some God-sized things happen in Portland. In fact, never forget this: Churches plant churches, not individuals. Let them help you.
Proverbs 3:14 says, "Happy is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gets understanding." Here are a few ways you can remain teachable and seek wisdom from your Sending Church:
Be teachable: Through coaching
Everyone needs a coach. But the best coaches are not always the people who give you all the answers to your situation. The best coaches are those who believe in you and ask you the hard questions to draw out the vision God is working through you. Your Sending Church wants the best for you. They are investing time, leadership equity and resources in you for a reason. The questions they ask you, even the hard ones, are not to harm you, but to draw out of you a better understanding of the steps you need to take. Give them the permission to ask you the hard questions and push you forward.
Be teachable: Through criticism
Have you ever heard the saying, “there is always a bit of truth in every ounce of criticism?” Well…it’s true. Remember, the criticism isn’t an attack on you if it comes from your Sending Church. It is out of love for you. They want the church plant to succeed as well. Do they always have it right? No. Do they always understand your context? Absolutely not. However, I have found out that when they give critique toward what you are doing, it makes you explain the reason behind what you are doing. I always find something I haven’t seen before, clearly in that process of evaluation. Albert Einstein once said, “If you cannot explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough." The key is knowing that your Sending Church is for you and not against you. Give them permission to challenge your process. Their critique or criticism could be filled with the truth you are missing.
Be teachable: Through humility
Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.” Say this with me, “I don't know everything.” That is so freeing. Your Sending Church does not expect you to know everything. In fact, if we were honest, church planting has much more do with God teaching us dependence around what we don’t know rather than having all the answers for every situation. I have found that our Sending Churches offer so much wisdom—regardless of the context—when we are just vulnerable with what we don’t know. Unless your Sending Church knows what you are struggling with they will not know how they can help. As church planters, we have an abundance of wisdom at our disposable through our Sending Church. Either through the pastor or the staff or even in the congregation, there is so much help if we are humble enough to ask. Some of the best minds sit on the pews of our Sending Churches looking for a way to use their skills for the kingdom and if our Sending Churches knew this, they could mobilize their people to be a part of church planting
Humility is a lost value for many leaders today and is one of the primary reason I believe church plants fail. Guys are not willing to say they don’t know what they are doing. Your Sending Church has people that have been where you are, ask them. I know that without our Sending Churches and the ability to call them when I need to seek advice, we wouldn’t be able to take the small steps we need to take to accomplish the bigger vision. So, breathe. You are set free to not know everything. A practical step could be to ask your Sending Church to plan a mission team around a specific vision need you have. For example, you don’t know how to set up a strong stewardship process. Have your Sending Church send you the best “business” people in the church who can help you do that. Mission teams don’t always have to be built around block parties, they can be built around organizational strategy.
Lastly, C.S. Lewis said, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s not thinking of yourself at all.” If church planting is about the kingdom, we will seek all the wisdom we can get from others because we know we need others to help us navigate these unknown waters. You don’t know everything. That is a good place to start. Trust the people who love you and sent you there. Give them permission to coach you, critique you and help you along the way because without the church, you cannot do it.