After struggling with failed church plants, stalled attempts, and some successes, I’ve had the privilege of helping several church planters. The road has not been easy for any of these people who have put themselves on the front lines.
Some of them bailed out after several years of struggle, and others press on. It has been painful for me as I begin to wonder how I could have been a better support for them. The questions are endless, and the answers few.
Through all of this, here are three things that failed church planters struggle with, and how you can help.
1. They don’t feel loved.
These planters are often living in a new place, far from friends and family. They long for deep relationships. This is part of the risk they have taken, but it is certainly an important need for them.
Find ways to reach out to them in genuine love. Regular phone calls are the best if you are far away. Even if they don’t call you, call them. Periodic emails telling them you remember them in your prayers. Give them updates about their home church and the people they know.
Whenever possible, visit them and pray with them and for them. Lay hands on them and bless them in the name of Jesus. In such a tangible way, express your love for them. Then, figure out a way to have a meal together with them.
2. There’s no one to believe in them.
Whatever happens, through success and failure, believe that they will succeed. Especially when there are failures and setbacks, express your confidence in them to hear God’s voice and to move in the Spirit.
When you believe in them, it will come through your words and actions in a powerful way. This will be a refreshing gesture that they desperately need.
Having people who believe in them will certainly build their confidence and enable to step out in faith and believe God. The Kingdom of God will do its work in the gradual process that Jesus taught. They just need to hang in there and trust.
3. No one is there for them when they are in a bind.
These people are taking some of the greatest risks they have ever taken in their lives. Having a consistent, supportive backup for them is a great asset. It impacts the level of risks they will take, and the level of confidence they will have.
In times of emergencies such as hospitalization, unexpected and expensive car repairs, and other surprise expenses, open your hearts and pockets and help them. Let it be a gesture of your support of their passion for the lost.
Have a listening ear. Sometimes, you may need to write an email or call them and offer to listen to them. I remember when my father passed away, so many sent their condolences by email, Facebook, and twitter. One of my college buddies wrote and said, “Hey, if you just need to talk, just call me.” At that point, that sounded like a refreshing offer and I took him up on it. I don’t remember the conversation, but I talked, and he listened.
A rare breed
Church planters are a rare breed. Be sure to love them, believe in them, and be there for them. It will pay back much dividends for God’s Kingdom in your favor.
Do you know a church planter? Check with your pastor and get information on a church planter that your church supports. Then love them, believe in them, and be there for them.