“We choose to go to the moon and do the other things not because they are easy but because they are hard.” -John F. Kennedy
When I was in college, they had this amazing website called “RateMyProfessors.com.” I don’t even know if it’s still alive and kicking, but it was great. You could find the easiest professor for the class you were taking which would almost guarantee good grades in that class. Then, you could do the least amount of work possible and even skip class to do what you really wanted to do such as play ultimate frisbee. Back then, I didn’t appreciate my education. In fact, it wasn’t until seminary that I realized the value in what I was doing. I didn’t see the value in the learning process but in the grade that I got. In fact, I didn’t care if I learned anything at all as long as I got an ‘A’ at the end of the semester.
When I was in seminary, I took Intermediate Hebrew with Dr. Brown, and it was quite possibly the hardest class I’ve ever taken in any educational endeavor. Dr. Brown taught inductively. He gave us Hebrew worksheets, and we had to work through them even though we didn’t know what half the questions meant! And, he graded us on them. Needless to say, I bombed the first couple of weeks worksheets. But, I worked my butt off. Towards the end of the semester, I had calculated what my grade was, and I had a solid C to C-. At the end of the semester, we had to write a 15 page single spaced exegesis paper on Jeremiah 7. I spent more time on that paper than any other I had ever done in my life. At the end of that semester, I somehow managed a B+. To this day, I have no idea how I got that grade, but I am extremely grateful. But more than that, I didn’t care about the grade. I learned Hebrew, and it deepened my appreciation for the Bible. That’s worth more than any arbitrary grade I could have gotten.
I’ve thought a lot about the last two years and God’s leading my family in planting Redemption Church. It’s been the hardest thing we’ve ever done, and if I’m honest, there have been many days when the thought has come across my mind of “Isn’t there something easier I could be doing?” We’ve heard criticism, “this won’t work”, “the way we do church is wrong”, spiritual warfare, financial stress, finding the right work/life balance, and much more.
I’ve had friends in church planting and known of many who have, for whatever reason, quit along the way. Maybe it was God’s call. Maybe it was just too hard. Maybe their families suffered. Whatever it was, they stopped planting to do something else. I have no idea what anyone else’s situation is, but I do know that church planting is tough. And, there are many casualties along the way. But, just because it is hard doesn’t mean it should be avoided. However, it does mean it should be taken seriously.
There are many bad reasons to plant a church. And, if you want to plant a church based on any of these reasons, don’t even think about planting. Find another job. Work as a barista. Be a hotel manager. But, don’t plant a church. Here are a few of those reasons:
1. Don’t plant a church if you think you won’t have to work as much as your current job.
2. Don’t plant a church if you’re in it for the money.
3. Don’t plant a church if you want adventure.
4. Don’t plant a church if you can’t get along with your boss.
5. Don’t plant a church if you only like church you’re way.
6. Don’t plant a church if you can’t get along with others.
7. Don’t plant a church if you’re trying to find identity in your work.
Church planting is tough and is not for the faint of heart. If you attempt to plant a church for the wrong reason, you will likely see yourself fall along the way. And, unfortunately, you will probably take others with you. Probably those closest to you. Planting is hard and not easy. Yet, that’s exactly why we go. “Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.'” -Matt 9:37