Lastly, your sending church is packed with people who are bored with being an audience. This is a target rich environment for core team builders looking for unused gifts, undeveloped potential, and congregants with that half-crazed gleam in their eye. If your pastor trusts you and you’re being sent, he’ll throw you in front of them to announce your crazy exodus in hopes that you’ll take the weird and difficult ones off his hands.
When Pillar was forming its core team, God brought us everybody else’s rejects. In 1 Samuel 22:2, God brought David the dejected, despised, and worthless men. Some translations state that they were in distress, in debt and bitter in soul. No offense to my team, but we were really a motley crew of the off-scouring of other churches. In the end, they proved themselves to be the mighty men of lore like David’s mighty men.
Church planters tend to be daredevils and cowards simultaneously. What puts fear in the heart of a church planter is being held back, and for that reason, most planters fear sharing their plans with their sending pastor. You aren’t demanding that Pharaoh “Let my people go”, even though you’re looking forward to booking that meeting as much as Moses did. Eventually, you’re gonna have to bite the bullet and have that chat with him.
Put those Nikes on your cold feet and “Just Do It.” It won’t be easy, and the result is unpredictable every time, but the burden of how it goes largely rests upon you.
You don’t have to read Kissinger’s tome on diplomacy, but you’re going to have to pray for wisdom as you aim to win your sending pastor’s support. With hat in hand and the humblest three-piece suit of humility that you can cover yourself with, you’re going to need to put yourself in his shoes. As a result of your recruiting efforts, he stands to lose some of his best people. From your pastor’s perspective, losing those people could be very disheartening, especially if they’re as valuable to the sending pastor’s work as they are to yours.
If you get caught on the receiving end of a shotgun blast, stay cool, and try to understand the reaction of the sending pastor if he’s less than gracious in the first meeting. Keep in mind, that there will come a time when somebody will come knocking on your door, metaphorically asking for your daughter’s hand in marriage, and you may be polishing your shotgun in anticipation of the next young punk. Be aware that you may catch him off guard or at a bad moment. He may be dealing with vicious infighting, suffering personal attacks, or be leaking people he values…people like you. Your request could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Pray with him, listen humbly, letting him know that as a result of his faithful ministry, his people want to step out in a venture of faith, and that he could be a part of commissioning and sending them.
In one of my church plants, we had two families who left good churches, in order to join our core teams, and both pastors graciously allowed me to attend on a Sunday morning and share the vision. Then their elders laid hands on them, releasing them as missionaries. That’s where you want to find yourself down the road.
Ultimately, however, the sending church misses out on the blessing of being a part of the support of a new work should they refuse to engage proactively as a support of church planting. You know it, and I know it, but they don’t know it yet. In my last church plant, we lost one of our founding couples, but the upside of it was that they went to join another church plant starting in the next town over. Needless to say, they went with our blessing, and we received the blessing of knowing that they were taking what they’d learned and were spreading it out.
As Francis Chan once said, “Christians are like manure. If you put them in a heap for too long, they begin to stink. Spread them out, and they become fruitful”. That’s ultimately what you want the pastor to know. They’re not leaving the church because it stinks … but because they themselves are beginning to stink. Think of it not as losing a member, but gaining a church planter.
In the end, the sending church will have the blessing of being able to say that they’ve planted a church and had a local impact beyond their four walls. As the pastor ripens to that idea, the conversation will become more fruitful. At all costs, strive to keep that idea as your central focus.
Over the years, I’ve brokered “the deal” between sending pastors and planters. I’ve helped them negotiate how many the planter can take, what the conditions will be and so forth. Often, because planters have a holy frustration pent up inside of them to reach the lost (I like to think of it as the equivalent to their “nesting behavior”), they can get judgmental and cocky, thinking that they’ll “really reach people.”
The temptation when you’re called to plant is to burn your bridges, and “blow the popsicle stand” behind you, burning rubber out of the parking lot, and shaking the proverbial dust off your tires. Part of this is because of how God has wired you. Believe it or not, you’ve been suffering from a holy frustration. Whenever I take a first call from a church planter, I ask how they’ve been feeling in their home church even though I already know what they’re going to say. Frustrated.
The mistake that many young planters make is that they aim all of that energy and tension that should be directed at impacting the lost, to mistakenly kick the pastor. I’d liken it to the testosterone build up that Mikey aimed at Apollo Creed when he told him, “No Boom, Boom.” Save it for the fight! The real one! Learn to appreciate your sending pastor, and learn all you can from him while serving together.
If your pastor is one of those guys who is building an empire, however, and just can’t let you go because you’re either competition, or he’s got to train up more guys, your departure will be good. Good for him, and good for you. In the end, it may be a parting like Paul and Barnabas; painful at the time, but beneficial to the spread of the gospel. These situations are usually avoided however with a little wisdom, T.L.C., and mutual understanding. There will come a day when that sending pastor will be bragging about that fact that he sent you out. It’s not so much that he’s proud … but proud of you. There are worse things that you can do than to march out under the orders of your commanding officer, take the beachhead, and make him proud. After all, every soldier wants to please his commanding officer…and Jesus is well pleased when his men strategize for the best advancement of the kingdom.
Buy Peyton’s newest book “Reaching The Unreached: Becoming Raiders of the Lost Art” over on Amazon.com. You can also download a free chapter and watch a cool trailer for the book HERE or click the image below.