Planter Killers: Comfort

By Dean Inserra

There are few things that will get you out of your comfort zone more than planting a church. Even if you have prayed often and overly prepared during the process, it becomes a whole new reality when you set off on your own with new vision and just a few friends. The temptation is to work as hard as possible, yet not have a strong gospel reach in your city and arrive at a place of comfort. If that is the comfort of a routine, financial stability, or just pulling off a Sunday service each week, a sigh of relief can eventually happen when you can finally get comfortable.

The truth is you have to figure out how to stay uncomfortable the entire time you are planting because discomfort is one of the reasons you planted a church in the first place. Comfort is not a bad word in itself, but it is a complete contradiction to church planting and mission. Arriving at a place of comfort can easily lead to a functional ministry of church and life maintenance that doesn’t line up to the vision that is being verbalized—nor was the rally cry behind starting a church in the first place.

Here are some factors that can lead to the dangerous world of comfort for a church planter.

Trying to get to the point of being paid full-time by the church
One should walk into a church plant assuming that being paid a full-time salary will not happen for a long time. It is a great privilege if that does happen, but it must never be viewed as a type of arrival point. If the urgency of the planter is to become full-time, what will happen when it finally happens? It becomes really easy to coast once your personal welfare is stabilized.

When the church consists primarily of transfer growth
If most of the people are coming from other churches, it means they probably have an expectation of how the church should meet their needs and preferences. What will make them happy is when they have a group of friends and a routine in the church. It’s difficult to think about those who haven’t come yet when you like your current church set up just fine. The pastor will have to cast vision with missional urgency over and over again to these people who come from other churches. When you think they are sick of hearing it, they are probably starting to finally get it for the first time.

Forgetting why you started the church
In those first few months when you were sending out support letters and casting the vision for the church to friends in coffee shops and over lunch, it was never about having a nice place to meet where people could make some friends. You talked about reaching people for Christ and making disciples. I am a strong advocate of doing a vision driven sermon series at least once a year. Everyone, including the planter, needs to be reminded of the why behind your church plant. Refuse to allow people to forget, alter or redirect why you set off on this adventure in the first place. You are planting a church, not working as a social director on a Christian cruise ship.

Published June 23, 2016

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Dean Inserra

Dean Inserra is the founding and lead pastor of City Church in Tallahassee, Fla. He is a graduate of Liberty University with a degree in Biblical Studies. Dean is a member of the advisory council for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. He is married to Krissie and they have three children.