- Jim Townsley
- Aug 15, 2013
I have heard from more than one church planter that they actually went through three congregations before they really developed a strong base for their church. Clearly there is a process of building a church that involves people coming for a time and then moving on. It is painful for every preacher to watch as people come and go, but it is the reality of church building.
A new church lacks stability that can only be obtained over time. The people that attend a new church often lack stability themselves and it is not surprising that they soon fall to the wayside. Christ may have changed their life, but their lack of character may contribute to their falling away. We must never forget that Satan is our enemy and he will constantly bombard new converts with temptations and trials seeking to derail their walk with the Lord.
A new church lacks the facilities and programs of an established church. The new congregation will meet in a store front, an old theatre, or a school as a meeting place. The music usually is more limited and less professional. The members often come from a lower class of society and many have serious issues they are dealing with. Great attention must be given to these new believers, but even though great effort is made to disciple them it will become apparent that some are only looking for attention and handouts, not growth and change. When the preacher requires they faithfully attend church services, not just a morning Bible study or a private counseling session, they may stop coming altogether.
This first group, the founders of the church, will always be loved and remembered in a special way, because they came first. However, not all of these new members will mature and grow with the church as it matures. God will bring new people into the church and some of them will be more stable than the first group. Each of these groups provide a staging to hold up the church until it is built and becomes strong. This process happens over a period of several years. Though every person is needed and every person is loved, it is inevitable that some will fall to the wayside over time. This is unfortunate, but it is important to realize the church is God's and He will build it.
As the fledgling church evolves into a strong vibrant church there will be people who come for a while and leave. Others will stay longer and a few will continue and be faithful for may years. These few faithful servants will become a special blessing to you and the entire church family. Spending too much time following after disgruntled saints and backslidden believers can be a mistake. The church planter must focus on reaching the lost in the community and bringing in new converts while discipling those who respond to the teaching of the Bible. No one wants to give up on anyone, but it will be to the detriment of the preacher to cater to those who must be constantly prodded and fail to reach the lost. There must always be new members coming into the church while at the same time training and edifying the saints who desire to grow. No matter how hard you try to help those who are interested, you will not be able to help everyone.
Eventually the church will mature and stronger leadership will arise and be developed. Today's American culture has little loyalty. The sad state of affairs in our day is that people come and go, so if you fail to reach new converts the church will diminish in its size and influence.
A preacher once was asked, "How many are you running?" to which it was replied, "I am running two thousand, but I am only catching two hundred." The measure of a church's success is not only how many attend, but how many does it influence and has influenced over the years. Hopefully some will be trained that go on to full time ministry and others may move from the area, but become great servants in a new location. Almost every new church will face a series of new starts, but by being faithful through the entire process eventually a strong church will be built for the Lord.
One key element of a strong church is the longevity of the pastor. It requires time to build a strong church and quitting results in failure. Through all the changes and evolution of the church you must grow in your leadership ability and edify your people so that they become stronger. Strong leadership in a church involves the longevity and faithfulness of the pastor as well as key people. Don't quit before you experience the results of a long tenure. You will regret quitting, but staying through the ups and downs will bring gratification to every preacher that remains faithful.