Church Planting Lessons: Blog

I used to hate reading stuff that told me how to be a great leader, because I was afraid one day I’d have to be one.

That thought used to trigger my gag reflex. I’m not kidding. The moment I thought some poor, defenseless people were going to be counting on me to make decisions that could effect not only their present, but their eternal future (you know, the whole pastor thing)… I was like a kindergartner on the first day of school...Petrified.

Though I was flattered by others’ observations that I had the right “gift mix” to be a church planter, I secretly wanted to re-gift that mix. To let someone else have it. I was happy being a college pastor. I just didn’t ever want the proverbial buck to stop with me.  So, this one is for all the dry-heaving prospective church planters out there who want to trade their gifting for a secure job where you can still blame your mistakes on “the lead guy”. (My fist is in the air, eyes closed, and head down in solidarity for all my frightened brothers out there.)

Here’s my advice, in one bolded sentence…Don’t worry so much…you’re not that important.

When you lose the “net” of finances, office space, a lead pastor to blame (that’s not you), or people who just find your church because it has existed a long time, you’ll start to see more and more how much the LORD cares about his church. He’s engaged to it. And he came up with the whole idea of covenantal love. The down payment has been made for the marriage supper. He’s not going to leave his church at the altar.

That doesn’t mean your church plant won’t fail. But it does mean you aren’t a failure if it does. You are wrapped up in the (Big C) Church. The one that only has one service time, and its eternal- the one that eats crackers and juice in anticipation for the crazy-delicious meal that we’ll eat with the King. The same King that cares about you much more than your website, your budget, or your offering last week. Ultimately, you are never the lead guy.

Trust me, at that marriage supper, nobody is going to be asking you about why you didn’t market your church better, why you gave that terrible advice to that young couple, or why you had Small Groups instead of Missional Communities.  You are simply going to be smiling, eating, crying happy tears (because he has wiped away all the other ones), and worshipping your plaid-shirt and beard off.

So, you can stop the dry heaving. You are not nearly as crucial to the success of the church as you might think. Go and make a mistake. Do it with wisdom and with a heart to invite others into the marriage supper, but rest. You’re not that important.


Trevor Atwood (@TMatwood) is the lead pastor of City Church in Mufreesboro, TN.  To find out more about City Church visit