Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Great Expectations...

Okay, Is it just me or am I losing momentum after having missed posting a couple of times in the last week? Traveling will do that to you though, especially when you are up in the mountains away from the "civilization" of wireless internet connections. Any way, I'm determined to catch up on all that I've missed out, so here are my final thoughts on the ARC conference. Matt Keller of Next Level Church in Fort Myers, FL spoke about church planting using a football analogy. He explained that while most church planters hope for the long bomb down the field that gets you up and running at over 1000 people from day one, real world experience suggests that that is more the exception than the norm. Most people have to fight for every yard right up the middle. Blood, guts and tears are the reward of this type of church planting.

He suggested that some of the reasons why church planters struggle with where they find themselves are as follows:
  • Unmet (unrealistic) expectations. Many who have come from "resource rich environments" think that their church plant will be an extension of where they have come from.
  • We need permission to be where we are; to think small because external pressures often convey the message of failure if you are not at a certain place by a certain point in time. He explained five levels of church planting: Family phase (100 or less). This is where the focus is on relationships and DNA reproduction. Growth is a byproduct of these two factors. Your team needs access to your head and your heart during this phase. Organizational phase (250 or less). This is where systems, structure and schedules are put in place. Medium size phase (300-400). In this phase expectations are different. Keys to success are leadership, staff, and delegating responsibilities appropriately. Large church phase (750). Momentum carries you and you need to re-evaluate your systems, structures, and leadership. Mega church phase (1000+). He's not there yet so doesn't know what it takes. :)
  • We need permission to have our own unique journeys rather than compare ourselves to others. You are not a failure because someone else has bigger crowds than you.
  • We need permission to think differently. The what, why, and how are essential questions to our success so that we are not just copying the resource-abundant ministry thinking it will work for us because it works for them. We must be strategic in applying our limited resources.

Then the analogy switched to baseball (get the feeling he likes sports?): You can't get to second base unless you touch first base, but you can't get to second base with your foot still on first base. Some people who ran to first base with you cannot make it to second base. They form part of the scaffolding that helps to build the structure, but they don't make up part of the building.

  • We need permission to learn at every phase. We must be willing to re-learn what we think we already know.
  • We need access to those who are where we are as well as those who are a step or two ahead of us. This serves as tremendous encouragement on the difficult days so that we know that we aren't the only ones dealing with difficulties and pressures.
  • We need a new definition of success: Success is significant life change, celebrating the stories of our "wins." Celebrating success is so much more than celebrating just numerical increase. Whatever you celebrate as a leader, your people will celebrate.


Steve Hickey said...

This is good stuff!

Joseph said...

Steven, coming from a seasoned church planter like you, that's high praise. Thanks bro. It was good being with you and Kristin in Birmingham.

Gapper said...

I love your new definition of success and the idea of celebrating the stories of our wins! So often, what is a 'win' for you isn't readily recognized in society. By celebrating them you are storing up that "tremendous encouragement you need on those difficult days"-Blessings-TK

kenneth said...

letting our pride go by re-learning what we thought we already knew! good stuff

Hope said...

Success: an endeavour blessed by the favour of God for others and to bring Him glory.

That's a definition.

Joseph said...

Gapper, thanks for your input and insight.

Kenneth, it's amazing how much we are learning.

Hope, great definition. Thanks.