It was six years ago, this month, that I resigned my position as Pastor of Outreach to plant a church. God had been knocking on my heart for a while and I finally surrendered to the call. Some days I still feel like a church planter. I’m not sure when you start to feel like a regular pastor. No one gave me a timeline for that!
In the beginning, I read everything I could find on church planting. Everything! And I still read quite a bit on the subject. One startling observation on the material out there? It’s all written for men. I’m sure there are some denominations who believe women can plant churches…mine, for example. But I guess those denominations don’t write books on church planting.
So here are ten tips for [women] church planters:
God loves me. I love God. I love myself. I love people.
Make this your mantra and burn it into your brain! As a woman in ministry, you will have to have an unwavering commitment that God loves you and He has called you. You! Not your husband. Not your neighbor. And not a man. He has called you, a woman, to be used to share the Gospel. And the Gospel needs you; a woman.
Stop freaking out about not having a mentor.
All I heard the first two years was how I really needed a mentor. Yeah, that never happened. I had some great friends, male and female, who had experience as ministers. They were my go-to people. They recommended books, prayed with me, and talk me off the ledge a few times. Women church planters are a rare breed. Women clergy are a rare breed. We are multiplying, but, in the meantime, work with whatever God grants you. Trust me. God has a plan and He will help you get where you are going.
Keep your relationship with God and your family fresh.
As women in ministry, many of us feel driven to produce in order to keep up with our male colleagues. Equally, as women, we tend to also be relationship driven. I found these two inner driving forces often collided. Do whatever you need to do to make that relationship with God top priority. If you need to change up your spiritual disciplines, then do it. But stay connected to God. And your relationship with your spouse and children should be such a close second that it looks like one and the same.
Earn your spouse’s trust.
I recently read a blog post by a male church planter who stated that he was logical and his wife was emotional, therefore she needed to “just trust him”. I could write a lengthy post about that comment alone, but I will save it for later. However, you do need to earn your spouse’s trust. Not because you are a woman, but because you and your spouse are partners in ministry. Church planters and ministers alike know that their spouse can make or break their ministry. Honor your husband/wife and they will honor you in return. Remember, you are asking them to step out on faith.
Church people are a blessing…and a curse. Choose wisely.
You may have a burning passion to reach the unchurched. Unfortunately, not everyone shares your vision. They think they do. They will tell you with great conviction that they have a heart for the lost. But they have no idea what they are signing up for by joining the journey. They can be your greatest asset. And they can be your greatest stumbling block. Pray. Hard. If you have any negative intuition, then strongly encourage them to wait before joining you.
Find favor in your community.
Once you identify where God is sending you, work at finding favor in your community. Identify a good coffee place to study, and frequent it consistently. Look for opportunities to connect and serve alongside your neighbors. Do what it takes to get noticed. And then bless them.
Share the vision. A lot!
Share your vision for planting your church with everyone. First, it will help keep the passion fresh in your spirit. You will need to keep your passion fueled to help you press through the tough days. You also need to share the vision over and over again because your core team will forget. They didn’t have that revelation moment you experienced. They need you to tell it again and again until they can tell it.
Live and die for the vision.
Nothing is as important as the vision. Except people coming to Christ. Nothing. Protect it. Honor it. Eat, sleep, breathe it. If the vision lives, then the church will grow.
Be open to God fine-tuning the vision.
You must live and die for the vision. But God is the Author of that vision. He has the right to make changes, fine tune it, shift it a degree or two. Hold the reigns of the vision loosely enough to feel God’s leading.
Remember, your story is unique.
In the early days, I compared my story to everyone else I heard. Many of them were wild, crazy stories of abnormal and exponential growth. It paralyzed me. You are unique and your story is unique. The path that you take will reflect your personality, experience, and your environment. Give yourself as much grace as your give to your congregation and maybe a little more.
If you are sensing God calling you to plant a church, then I hope you will surrender to Him. Find someone you can talk to about it. The world needs more church planters. And it most definitely needs more women church planters. Be the change you want to see.