Your Church Plant is Not for Everybody

The church is supposed to be diverse, right?

Ideally, isn’t the Body of Christ supposed to be as diverse as to include every tribe, tongue, and nation? Shouldn’t there be a great variety of musical styles? Shouldn’t everyone feel welcome and at home?

This might be the hardest fact about your church plant. The toughest to articulate. The hardest to defend.

Your church plant is not for everybody.

This isn’t just something you tell yourself when your numbers are down, or when you make a blunder, or when you preach a lame sermon. This isn’t just a saying with which you reassure yourself when you foolishly offend someone.

This is simply a reality.

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Photo by Sara McAllister

Every single decision you make is necessarily exclusive. When you pick English instead of Spanish, you are making your church nearly inaccessible to everyone who doesn’t speak English. If you preach for 30 minutes or more, you’re excluding everyone who has a short attention span. If you don’t have Sunday School, you’re excluding everyone who can’t imagine a church without Sunday School. And then there’s music. Oh, music! You can’t please everyone. And if you try to please everyone, you’ll end up making horrible music that pleases no one.

The culture of your church plant will be too cozy for some, and too impersonal for others.

The location of your worship will be convenient for some, and inaccessible to others.

The neighborhoods you seek to reach will be home to some people, but not to others.

The church planter’s personality will seem genuine to some and insincere to others.

The church will feel too institutional to some, and too organic to others.

Here’s the reality: the global body of Christ is as diverse as the human race. But the expression of the body of Christ in a particular place, among a particular people, will inherently give expression to the cultural idiosyncrasies and delights of that singular culture.

So listen hard to what kind of church the Lord is calling you to be. Make room for people who are drawn into the fellowship that the Spirit creates. Be prepared to be surprised at who comes among you, and then minister to and with them joyfully. But don’t labor under the illusion that there’s something wrong with you or your church plant simply because it’s not for everybody.

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6 thoughts on “Your Church Plant is Not for Everybody

  1. Wise thoughts. Just as individual believers pray for God’s guidance and make decisions about what their calling may be, those decisions of necessity define what one’s calling is not. This is part of (1) recognizing God’s design for your personal or church life, and (2) maturing in our service to Christ’s kingdom. Great post!

  2. Enjoying your posts, Andy. It took me a while as a church planter to overcome my “savior complex” and realize that people not staying at our church or even leaving after a while was not necessarily a bad thing.

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