When my dad began to sense that God might be calling him to plant a church someone gave him a sheet of paper that would hang on our refrigerator for years. At the top it read, “Future Church Planters: Count The Cost!” As a young man I remember really disliking that sheet of paper. I found it depressing; nihilistic even. Over the years, however, I would come to understand why my dad returned to that sheet of paper so often. He was living it.
Many who have planted churches will tell you there’s a lot of truth in these words; some of them truths that only church planters can really know. If you’re thinking about planting a church, you need to think long and hard about what you’re considering. It’s not nearly as sexy or glamorous as some would have you believe. The cost is indeed great.
But there’s nothing like it. And to those who are called, there’s nothing else.
Future Church Planters: Count The Cost
Expect to be misunderstood.
Expect to be persecuted and expect it to come firsts from those who follow Jesus.
Expect to be attacked, maligned and ridiculed from all sides.
Expect to grow tired and weary.
Expect to want to give up.
Expect to lose many old friends.
Expect to lose all your friends where the “church” is the central reason for your friendship.
Only your deep and Christ-centered friendships will endure.
Expect to be labeled. (a freak, a hippie, a cult leader, a quitter, a fraud, an idealist, a purist, a heretic, a divider, a communist, a jerk, an egomaniac, a devil worshiper)
Yes, I’ve been called all of them – to my face and behind my back.
Expect to weep…deeper and stronger than you ever have.
Expect to doubt your calling, your convictions, your path, your faith, and your life.
Expect to be lonely. Very lonely.
Expect to be seen as utterly unsuccessful.
Expect to die…nothing will be left of you. You will cease to exist. The last things in you to die will be your desire to be great for God and your desire to be happy.
And then, you will finally, live.
Expect to finally understand the prophets and apostles.
Expect to know Jesus and his life…for that is all that you need.