Every building rests upon a foundation. If the foundation is not firmly grounded, the entire building is put at risk. At the commencement of every new project there must be a blueprint that reveals a pattern for the finished product.
A new church must be built upon the right foundation, Jesus Christ. Upon the foundation is built the framework, and upon the framework the roof. The framing supports the roof and keeps the entire building together. The framework also allows the builder to beautify and garnish the entire structure so that the finished product reflects the intent of the architect.
A new church will probably look much different than an established mature church. In fact, God is continually perfecting His church. Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, "That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Ephesians 5:27).
The process of building a church is similar to that of constructing a building. The foundation must remain constant, built on Jesus Christ, while very often the framework is merely temporary to keep the building together until a more permanent framework is established. The construction of the church is ongoing and will never be finished until the return of Christ.
In this process of building a church, new members will be added that are a blessing during those infant years, but in the process of time some may drift away, move away, or turn back to the world. In the beginning, these believers may have been key members who did much to help build the church. However, as the church grows and as they are challenged to mature, they may be unwilling to make the necessary commitment for the perfecting of the church of God.
Those first converts will always hold a special place in the heart of a church planter. Some of them will continue faithfully through the years, while others come only to support the work briefly and then disappear. All are a part of keeping the church together during this process of establishing a strong and mature body of believers. Some people will thrive in a new and small setting, but in a larger ministry find themselves lost and uncommitted. As the church grows, some of the original framework will be replaced by a more permanent framework of believers.
Developing maturity and stability require many years of faithfulness and consistency by the leaders of the church and especially by the pastor. Over many years of faithful service and consistency, God will develop a mature group of believers. Some of the earliest members will remain, while others were temporary framework.