What Pitfalls Should be Avoided?

August 24, 2023

Church Planting Basic Training, Part 13

What Pitfalls Should be Avoided?

Church-planting involves sinful human beings trying to form a newly organized church. Thus, problems are obviously a high potential. Here are four common pitfalls and how to avoid them.

The First Disagreement

A core group may begin meeting and one or more members of the group may begin to push a particular agenda. Already now the tension has begun even before a proper ecclesiology or focused direction can be established. One way to short-circuit this potential is to establish upfront that a foundation will be laid before any decisions are made. This foundation can include doing a study on ecclesiology through a few books, spending time in prayer together, and establishing upfront a light leadership structure of facilitators. Talking about these issues upfront should help defuse potential disagreements later.

The Possibility of One or Two Wanting to Make All Their Dreams for a Church Come True

Once again, the foundation of the church’s purpose and the biblical gospel will help steer discussions. Those who initiated the core group obviously have the natural authority to begin establishing the direction but beyond initial meetings it may become apparent that some who have joined in have an overly specific agenda. They may be responding to a bad church experience they had. One way to avoid this is to continually stay focused on the New Testament churches, studying the attributes and lessons from each church (Jerusalem, Ephesus, Galatia, etc.). This keeps the core group looking to the Word of Christ to find models for how to do church.

The Possibility of Familiarity Breeding Contempt

A core group, with or without a founding pastor, will likely experience some “honeymoon” times of excitement and thrill at the possibility of being part of a new church work. But as many pastors will attest to, those joyful times with certain church members can be very different when that same church member is the most difficult and argumentative person in the group a year or two later. The best antidote to this potential is to intentionally develop great love and affection between core group families and/or the founding pastor. The strength of those relationships based on a mutual desire to further Christ’s kingdom will carry the group through uncomfortable or difficult conversations.

“Church-Planting Basic Training” is a series of 15 short bullet-point style articles aimed at encouraging Christians in the appropriate situation to consider engaging in a long-term church-planting project.

Steve Swartz, D.Min

Dr. Swartz serves as Senior Pastor of Grace Bible Church in Bakersfield, California and is a guest instructor at John MacArthur’s Grace Advance Academy, a church-planting training program. Dr. Swartz is the author of numerous books, including Strength in the River, Joyful Generosity, Shattered Shepherds, and The Essential Church.

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