Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Rantings of a Church Planter (It's Not Me)

I was surfing the net and stumbled upon a blog by a church planter. I agree with most his rants. His talk about being a church planter vaguely resembles mine:

There is nothing easy about a church plant. We set up and tear down every week. Every Saturday we wonder if people are going to show up. We are the pastor, IT guy, graphic designer, etc. Pastoring an established church isn't easy either but it would be a lot easier sometimes to find a church that didnt have to deal with the stuff we deal with.

I totally agree. I don't have a church administrator, so I'm the one who designed and maintained the webpage, designed the bulletins and flyers, write edit and mail the newsletter and when I have the chance, plan worship services and write a sermon to preach. Did I mention I'm also the chief fundraiser? When you are a new church pastor, you do it all. It is not easy; in fact, it's damn tiring.

At times, I've thought seriously about just giving this all up and find a nice small church to pastor and get a check from it (yeah, I don't get paid for all this. Well, that's not totally true- the middle ajudicatory in my denomination has given us a small grant that went to stipends, but without that, I'm pretty much not getting money). I mean, I get tired of trying to do my 40 hour week job and then try to plan a church service. I get tired of asking for financial support from people. I get tired of wondering if the church will survive with lack of funds.

Seems like Greg's been there too:

Every Monday I am so worn out I can barely get out of bed. Every Monday I tell my wife that I just want to find a small mountain church where all I have to do is preach three times a week and visit the members and get a paycheck. Every Monday I just want to find a place where they don't want the pastor to be the leader, have a vision or reach lost people. Sounds a lot easier to me. Then DeAnna reminds me that yes I could do that but that I would die a slow death. She is right. She always is.

The thing is, I have a passion for new church. This is what I want to do. Being the pastor of a new church has been hard, but it has also stretched me in ways that I never would have in an established church. While I don't agree theologically with Greg, I can understand his passion:

The fact is we don't do church the way we do to be cool. I am sure some do but they don't last very long. We do it because we think people are dying and going to hell. Because of that conviction, we feel as if we must do WHATEVER it takes to reach these people. I could care less about doing church the way we do it. If there was another way to reach lost people, we would do it. I admit I take it personally when people say these things because I know what fuels me and the church planters I know is very simply that fact that we have a burning desire to reach those people that would never darken the door of an established church. That is it. I don't care about anything else. We don't do it for the money, because it easier, because it is the way to build a church, we simply do it because people need to hear the message of Jesus Christ.

Now, I'm not sitting here worrying that someone is hellbound. I used to, but these days, I believe in a more gracious God. However, he is correct that there are a lot of people who come to Community of Grace that would never darken the door of an established church. Many of them have felt unwelcomed because of their sexual orientation, and now they have the certainly that God loves them just the way they are.

I wish that people were more passionate about new churches and about finding ways to support them. CoG is doing some great things reaching out and showing that God loves them in word and deed.

Being a new church pastor is hard, but damn well worth it.