The Delusions of Church Planters

By Tricia Lovejoy

My husband and I were speaking with a group of church planters and their wives recently when one pastor shared his struggle. Life in church planting is all-consuming at times, leaving no breathing room for a life outside of ministry. The man’s wife agreed that even their days off are filled with a ministry to-do list. For them, and so many others in church planting, being the leader means bearing the workload.

Maybe we all suffer from CPS, Church Planter’s Syndrome, the delusion that if something must be done right, it must be done by us. (Of course, there are other symptoms of CPS, like the fear that no one will show up for church services, but I digress.) As a survivor of CPS, I, too, once believed that being the leader meant bearing the workload. After all, who knew the vision and mission of our church better than my husband and me? Obviously, my husband and I could create environments, market to the community, and teach better than others, right?

Quite possibly.

Nevertheless, my husband’s role as pastor (and mine as his partner) isn’t to perform every administrative task, fill every volunteer opening, and lead every small group. Our job is to train and equip other believers to do the work of the ministry.

Ephesians 4:12 offers the cure to our delusional CPS: “Their responsibility (pastors and teachers) is to equip God’s people to do His work and build up the church, the body of Christ.

As wives, partners with our husbands, we are often tasked with duties like leading the childrens’ ministry, coordinating worship teams, or creating a small group ministry. In the early days of starting a church, we do it all. That’s necessary. It’s vital to our success. Yet, we must remember that our goal is to raise up new leaders, not to continue to do the work ourselves.


Check out Ephesians 4:13. It says we must equip God’s people to do His work “until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.” Verse 16 continues, “He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” Doesn’t that sound attractive? Who wouldn’t want to serve and lead a church like that?

We must give our jobs away! We must raise up leaders behind us and grow God’s church. Let’s not get so bogged down in the details of our particular ministry area that we fail to value the overall health and growth of the church. Instead, let’s train others to do what we do, freeing ourselves to launch new ministry areas or breath life into failing ones. If we will, we’ll create churches that are “healthy, growing, and full of love.”

Talk to us: Which of your responsibilities could you train someone else to do? How do you feel about giving your job away?

Published March 24, 2014

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Tricia Lovejoy

Tricia lives in Birmingham, Ala., and is married to Shawn Lovejoy, an author and the founder of CourageToLead, a coaching resource for pastors. She blogs at with insights into our Christian life, a little fun, and a lot of real-life transparency. Together, she and her husband lead out in ministry and life. They have three children.