What if God likes it that so many church plants aren't making it?
The stats vary from state to state, but starting a church doesn't have the greatest success rate.
In Boulder County (which admittedly is 'tougher ground') the percentages are dismal. The 501c3 church I started is now included in those statistics.
As I meet church planters (and I get to meet tons of them), the common theme is that despite all the percentages available to them, they usually say that they will be the exception. (And believe me, if you want to have a chance at making it, you have to have that mentality.) But, the stats are the stats and the continued carnage from church planting is all too prevalent. Even the very 'best' are not exempt.
So what's up?
I think maybe God is up to something.
What if God is ceasing church planting as an opportunity to disciple his young men and women?
What if he is using church planting as a way to discipline his children?
What if he is allowing us the theatrics of creating a prospectus, laboring over a name and a logo, churning out fundraising meeting after fundraising meeting, defending our vision/mission/strategy, committing to a model, rallying a core group, sending out the advertising and social media, jumping through the legal organizational hoops, making sure we've got the right coffee to serve, launching the website and so on and so on just to let us crash and burn.
What if that's his amazing plan?
I think it's GENIUS!
Isn't it just like God to use anything to make us more like him?
Isn't it just like God to allow craziness to help us really see his Kingdom?
Isn't is just like God to turn our tables over, demolish our towers and strip us of our power?
And so maybe he is allowing a bunch of his men and women to go after their church planting dream in order to teach them that the worldly success they crave and equate to the Kingdom of God is not even close to what He had in mind.
Even the churches that do succeed come to a point where they realize that all their toil produced minimal Kingdom fruit. We look around and say, "Is this it? Is this really all there is? Is this what I did all that work for? Is this really what I gave my life to?" Again, wordly success doesn't compare to the Kingdom of God. And deep down, no matter how we try to convince ourselves, we know, don't we?
Well, I, for one, am so glad for this. (And obviously so not glad for it in my flesh).
I wouldn't have written it up this way but I'm so glad that God has been taking a whole generation (maybe two or three) of people and taken them through their paces in the American Church Planting Scene.
It's been an absolute blood-bath, but if all of this makes us more like Him, if it helps us embrace the Kingdom visions of God, if it produces more wisdom and humility, if it actually matures us toward unity and love, if it can help us invest in justice and . . . WOW! CAN YOU IMAGINE?!
And all of this . . . because He loves you and me so much he will do anything to help us realize and live out his most beautiful dream for us. (Proverbs 3:12; Hebrews 12:6)
Maybe in a few years we'll be ready for a huge Kingdom explosion! I can't wait!
What do you think? What's your story? What about all of you who have been 'successful?' What does this mean for you?
Image • KevinColon.com