I really love my job. I love the fact that I get to work with church planters and pastors everyday. It’s cool to see the various ministries they represent and how God has wired each one of them uniquely and differently. Church planters see the world differently as well. Many of them see their communities optimistically as places that God can reach. They see challenges as minor obstacles instead of dream killers.
Another beautiful thing for many planters is that they don’t see other ministries as competition. Unfortunately, we, as human beings, often think in the flesh. We see other ministries and other churches as a business sees competitors in the area who might try to put them out of business. It’s a sad reality. For church planters, you may be the new guy going into an area, and others may see you as a threat to their ministry without ever sitting down and having a conversation to get to know you or your heart. In spite of this being human nature, I believe we can work to help avoid some of this mentality. Here are several ways to do this.
1. Keep a prayer list of needs other pastors have around you.
I remember when we started Redemption Church early on that one of the local pastors told me that their church prayed for us by name in their worship service. I was touched by this simple gesture because I saw that this brother wanted us to succeed in our efforts. If you can keep this same sort of posture, it may go a long way in changing wrong perceptions and attitudes towards others in your local ministry area.
2. Beware of personal flattery at another pastor’s or ministry’s expense.
Some people will come into your church plant after getting upset at other churches along their way. They will have many reasons why they are upset and will speak very highly of you and your church. Their reasons may even sound valid. They may even tell you all the things you’re doing right as a pastor and all the reasons why you are the next Moses.
Watch out for this form of flattery. It may be a way they use to gain influential positions in the church to gain power. Also, the terrible stories they tell you about another ministry are only one side of the story. Take those stories with a grain of salt. You could always call up those pastors who are being bad-mouthed and ask them what really happened. You may save yourself a lot of heartache doing a good investigation and may able to help that new person reconcile their past problems with a previous ministry. Plus, if they will use flattery to you in order to put a previous pastor down, they will probably use flattery on the next pastor to put you down when the role is reversed.
3. Offer resources and assets that you can share.
If you have resources or other assets such as curriculum, extra supplies, or furniture, find ministries in your area that can use it. I recently heard of a church that had a wealthy congregation. One of the ways that they spent their budget was to offer Christmas bonuses to pastors of smaller congregations in their area. These pastors were incredibly grateful for that act, and it has done much to create unity in that group of churches.
4. Trust the character and motives of others.
Sometimes when we hear about the actions of other ministries, we may immediately think that their motives and/or character are suspect. We may not understand why this particular ministry is doing what they are doing, but we shouldn’t immediately assume the worst. If you really are wondering, give the ministry a call. Find out what happened. Maybe it’s a simple misunderstanding. When someone brings to you bad news from another church in the area, don’t hear that news at face value.
5. Look at the big picture instead of your little kingdom.
When there are more churches working together, it has mutual kingdom benefit. Many have stated that the more churches in an area, the more the churches around that church seem to benefit. One person may decide to go to church due to a block party another church puts out, but that person goes to another church in the area instead of the one putting on a block party. That’s not a bad thing. It’s all about the kingdom.
6. Meet for coffee or lunch.
I’ve not always done a good job with this one because of how busy I was as a church planter, However, the more you can sit across from another pastor over coffee, the more you get to know who he is. You get to know what makes him tick and that he’s a real person. You find yourself developing compassion for him instead of trivial territorialism.
7. Ask for ways you can help them.
Part of our human nature and flesh is that we are very good at asking for things that benefit us. We are very good at sharing our own needs, but we are not always good at listening to the needs of others. Instead of being a constant taker, be a giver. Find out how you can help other ministries instead of taking form them.
8. Pray for their families.
As a pastor, I’m always in front of people speaking or sharing something. I’ve accepted that. However, my family often gets put on the back burner. If you want to be a blessing to others, find ways to pray for and help their families. Get to know their kids names and their struggles as a parent. The more you can do this, the more credibility you build with others and the more you are working towards a kingdom minded ministry.