From the moment you realize the call of God on your life to plant a church, you begin to develop a new mindset. It seems as though every passing thought and every new discovery is centered on getting this new church started. Dreaming begins, strategies are contemplated, and goals begin to be set.
Many times though, our goals seem to be tied to one question: “How can I quickly grow a thriving church?” In fact, you may be hastily skimming this article right now searching for some tip regarding church growth or expanding ministries. I believe we should dream of and plan for God’s blessings in our ministry. However, if all of our goals are centered on the results of ministry and none are developed for the path of ministry, we may never survive to see the results. So along with all of our goals for dynamic growth and expansive ministry, here are some foundational goals all church planters should have:
1. The Goal of Partnership
We all enjoy the romantic idea of a church planter going to some far away area not knowing a single soul when they get there. While it is necessary for us church planters to have a pioneering spirit, we must be careful not to develop an isolationist spirit. You may not know anyone where you are going to plant a church, but you should know a lot of people who are helping you to get there.
All throughout Paul’s ministry in the New Testament you see him connecting in partnership with others. This is seen in Philippians 4: 1-3 as he refers to some of these co-laborers as his yokefellow. The picture here is of partnership in the labor of the ministry.
You may be entering some unknown frontier, but it is not God’s plan for you to do it alone. He has help for you. You may not think you need others, but your family will for sure. My advice is to cherish as much help as you are privileged to have from God. Partnership will help you go longer and farther in the ministry.
2. The Goal of Joyfulness
The simple fact is that you could be the pastor of a mega church and be miserable doing it. So if your only goal as a church planter is to grow a big church, that may be all you get. It should be our goal to have joy in God’s calling for our lives.
As exciting as the adventure of planting a church can be, there are many demands that can rob you of your joy if you let them. The apostle Paul had many reasons to become jaded and joyless, but instead his goal was to be joyful. In Philippians 4:4 his desire was to rejoice always in every situation.
If we are to be joyful in our ministry we must choose prayer over worry, the peace of God over the escape from problems, and the security of Christ over our doubts and fears. (Philippians 4:5-7) The Bible tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength. If we are to have a strong ministry, we should make it a goal to have a joyful ministry.
3. The Goal of Protection
Church planting is indeed a unique situation. In the very beginning there tends to be a lot of alone time with your thoughts. Whether you are out knocking doors or in the office studying, there are not too many people around challenging and sharpening your thought life. The mind has always been the devil’s favorite battleground, and I believe that it is especially vulnerable in the church planter’s life.
The apostle Paul understood the importance of protecting our minds. In Philippians 4:8 he challenges us to take an inventory of what is entering our thoughts. We should consistently audit our thought life in its purity and productivity. This should not only take place for the church planter personally, but also for his family. Find out what they are thinking about situations and give them good and godly things to meditate on.
Every failure of spirit and collapse of character begins in the mind. That is why we must have a goal to protect the minds and hearts of our families.
4. The Goal of Contentment
By contentment I do not mean apathy, laziness, unwillingness, or lack of vision. The apostle Paul may have been the most choleric personality in the New Testament. He was a hard worker, passionate, and zealous in the ministry. Yet, even the apostle Paul saw the need to learn contentment (Philippians 4:11). He understood that both life and ministry could be cyclical in nature. There would be both ups and downs. He said that he knew how to abound and be abased. He knew how to be full and to be hungry. He knew how to abound and to suffer need.
As a church planter you will experience fluctuations in your life and in your ministry. However, these do not have to result in fluctuations in your spiritual temperature. Attendance, finances, community response, meeting places, moods, members, health, and many more characteristics of ministry are by nature unstable. Yet we can trust that the will of God is stable and we must learn to be content with what He is doing.
By learning contentment we are ensuring longevity in the ministry. It will also help prevent discouragement, jealousy, and resentment. When our expectations are tempered with contentment we can have stability in our service.