I am a supporter of church planting. I believe the Great Commission requires it.
However, I’m of the opinion that church planters with the wrong motives should stop and re-evaluate. Don’t misunderstand, no church planter is perfect, and certainly all planters have some degree of selfsih motives they struggle with. But if the main impetus for planting a congregation is sinful, be sure that it will have major ramifications.
Here are three selfish reasons for planting a church:
- “Church my Way.” I understand that every planter has ideas about how their church will be different and unique. That’s great. But if the planter’s motive stems from not being able to find a church they like so they are going to plant one that is their “ideal” church, this is a major red flag. The fact that they can’t find a satisfactory existing church probably says more about them than the churches they have rejectied. Further, the idea that anyone can plant the “perfect” church is delusional. Ultimately, this motive is more a reaction to other churches rather than a passion for reaching people. This planter has a great opportunity to redirect his motive toward finding innovative ways to reach people whom other churches are failing to reach. In this way, he retains his vision for improvement and change, but takes away the temptation of competition with other churches.
- Entrepreneurial Planting. Every planter has a unique set of God-given gifts and abilities that shape his ministry. One valuable skill is an entrepreneurial mindset. However, this skill can become a liability when it becomes the motive for planting rather than a support for a biblical motive. This can result an “ends justify the means” philosophy of ministry which values growth over people. This planter has a valuable skill if only he will put it in proper perspective. Keep the main thing the main thing and let everything else support it.
- Need a Job. Sound rediculous? You may be surprised. Picture a pastor who is disatisfied with his current pastorate. He feels underappreciated and underpaid. He has looked for other churches to pastor, but nobody seems interested. One day, he discovers a denomination or church planting entity. The group promises to help with startup costs and moving expenses. See the temptation? This planter needs to deal with his internal issues -namely, loving the people God has already given him to pastor, and learning to be content with the resources entrusted to him. I’m not saying he has to stay at his current church (or salary) for life. But if his heart is not content and thankful now, no change in location or salary will satisfy him. If this planter can learn contentment, it will prove to be an asset in starting a new church -trust me, it’s critical.