A common challenge that every church planter will be faced with is the challenge of making “mountains out of mole hills.” I am not talking about blowing a given issue out of proportion, rather, I am speaking of providing majestic mountains on mole hill resources. Every church planter will encounter the burden of balancing the need for offering a full service ministry with the limitation of facilities and volunteers. You won’t have everything that most people think you will need to have a “real church,” and yet, that is exactly what you are—a real church. It may be a little ragged around the edges outwardly, but there is a whole lot of energy on the inside.
I find that far too often young pastors and churches are frustrated by their current living conditions and are, in the process, shifting their focus from trusting in God to relying on the tools they have at their disposal. It’s time we reassess, find encouragement in the moment, and seize the days we are in right now. We must shift our focus back to the basics and remember that we were called to face these very challenges.
For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)
We must become willing to view these challenges as opportunities and not obstacles.
Our church has met in ten different meeting places in nearly six years due to growth and other unavoidable circumstances. Each of these places offered various opportunities for us to create a unique arena for service; and each phase has, in some way, molded the church that we are today. In fact, the design of our new church building is incorporating ministries that were begun because of limitations in rented facilities when we had a weekly attendance of twenty-five. As we adapt to our various limitations, we find that we can grow in spite of the challenges. Here are some basic rules to apply.
1. Be Content, Not Complacent
The prevailing attitude within the leadership of any church should be a genuine contentment with where the church is and what it has. Your ministry is not now what it will someday be, but waiting until later is not an option; later is dependent on now. Contentment does not allow for complacency. We must constantly be expanding the vision and taking steps forward. As the church grows, make certain the facility allows for growth in all areas such as nursery and children’s ministries. We are always on the lookout for better places to meet and we are constantly updating our signage, mailers, and community presence.
2. Be Creative, Not Complicated
As a new church, you will face obstacles not realized by established ministries. You will have an opportunity to be creative with almost every ministry. Rented facilities require you to be flexible with service times, and they offer wonderful opportunities to create ministry. Set up teams are the fastest way to “employ” upwards of eighty percent of the church body in the work of the ministry. Ownership comes quickly when people are needed.
We had a six hour window in our building during the first two years we rented. Rather than cut a service, we held Sunday School at 10:00, our morning worship at 11:00, fed everybody lunch each week, and then had a 1:30 afternoon service in lieu of our evening slot. This method generated more opportunity for fellowship and discipleship than we ever could have had otherwise. The key is to not change to the point of becoming complicated. Set a consistent pattern in your services and have them every week, even if you have to find an alternative meeting place to accomplish this. Give people services and ministries worth investing in and inviting to.
3. Be Christ-centered, Not Conceited
1 Corinthians 1:29, That no flesh should glory in his presence
1 Corinthians 1:31, That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
God gives opportunities and allows obstacles; He gives the purging and the increase. We ought to be concerned only with His glory and not how we are perceived. Each step of ministry is uniquely designed by God to shape and mold our ministries into what He desires. Sometimes it is better to be energized by “what is” than to be enamored with what “will be.” Don’t wait; find out right now what God wants you to be doing with your mole hills on the way to the majestic mountains.
After the revolution, George Washington was staying in Boston where British General Howe had once lodged. He supposedly got into a conversation with a little girl there. “You have seen the soldiers on both sides,” he said, “which do you like the best?” The little girl said she liked the redcoats the best. Washington laughed and said: “Yes, my dear, the redcoats do look the best, but it takes the ragged boys to do the fighting.”
Don’t be afraid of not looking the best. Just put up the fight right where you are with what you have.