Just a short list of reflections on what I would have done differently if starting a new church…
1. Worried less – When we trust God, we worry less. But trusting God is no substitute for hard work. So, we work hard while deeply trusting in God. I found that I worry a lot more when I trust God less; that I also waste much labor when I worry, trying to make up for that distrust of God. Relax…then join God in what He’s already doing.
2. Laughed more – When you worry, you laugh less, which causes more worry and less laughter. It’s a vicious cycle. Listen, this is serious business I know, but the fact is pretty soon you and I will be gone and all but forgotten. So, laugh. Laugh at how serious we take this thing, give yourself a break, smile, and get back to enjoying what God has called you to.
3. Prayed more – When we worry our prayers turn to desperate pleas for rescue, respite, something to dull the pain & fear that threatens to encapsulate us. I love the Jesus Prayer, and I pray it many times a day but if starting over, I would have prayed more about enjoying the good things and people that were around me in the journey at that time. Worry-prayer can consume you until there’s no joy-prayers. And you know what that leads to…more worry.
4. Pandered less – I would not have been so concerned about, and pandered to, every living body that showed up to our early meetings. If you’ve planted a church (I have planted two personally, helped plant many others) you know what I mean. We think we need every person that comes through our doors, and we will kiss…whatever to keep them in that lonely seat so we won’t feel like failures. We allow the unconvicted & unconvinced to rob us of the passion needed to recognize and recruit the repentant & ready. Don’t do it! Most of the time the harder we work to keep someone from leaving the more we will regret it in the end. Learn the art of a healthy good-bye early on… and hello to less worry.