Get Right Out of Town

What is the one indicator that a planter has learned how to develop and deploy leaders in a church plant?

His ability to take a bona fide vacation. 

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I’m blessed to have a wife who will never allow me to become a workaholic. She knows how to look me in the eye and demand that I never abdicate my duties and calling as a husband and a father in exchange for more success in the church plant.

Recently she looked at me and said, with the prophetic certainty that only she can muster: “It’s time to get out of town.” There’s nothing wrong with being in town. It’s just that sometimes it’s time to get out of town.

Immediately, I began assessing whether or not this was possible, and, if possible, how quickly it could happen.

  • Who will preach? Thankfully, I’ve got an apprentice who in many ways is a better preacher than me. I’ve got 2 other men in the congregation who I can call upon to preach, and who can preach with even more passion than I can. And I’ve got 2-3 other ministers who are able to jump in and preach if need be. This time, Daniel gets the nod because he’s had a couple weeks off and wants to experiment with preparing 2 sermons in one week. The RUF minister at Winthrop is preaching at the front end of my coming vacation.
  • Who will lead music? The liturgy? I’ve got a musically gifted wife, but obviously this won’t be the occasion to have her fill in for me. I have 2-3 capable music leaders in or around the congregation upon whom I can call. I need to develop more musicians and music leaders in the future so that we have a rotation of music teams and leaders, and so I don’t necessarily need to be one of them. I’ve got lots of liturgists.
  • Who will manage the set-up, tear-down, and clean-up? I’ve got people who are skilled and equipped to do this better than me already. It’s no worry at all.
  • What if visitors show up? Will they feel ripped off that the pastor wasn’t there? Probably not. We’ve created a culture in which leadership is diffused. While I am the lead elder, and I take responsibility for the health of the body, my absence does not mean an absence of leadership.
  • What about community groups during the week? These don’t depend on me at all. I need to better equip our community group leaders for sure. But they don’t need my presence or oversight in order to gather, eat, open the word, and apply it to their lives—-or to engage their neighbors in deeds of love and mercy.

Occasions like these are good opportunities to discover how full of yourself you are. Planters who believe that everything depends on them, who feel that if a job is going to be well done, they have to do it—these planters can never take a vacation, because they’ve never shared leadership.

GOOD THINGS

Looking at my quick-and-dirty assessment of my delegation of roles and duties, and my empowerment of other leaders, I’m glad to realize that getting right out of town is eminently possible. And, in the grand scheme of things, getting out of town is good not just for me and my wife, but for our young church plant.

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT

But I also realize that there is much more development and equipping of leaders that I need to be doing. I err on the side of over-releasing and under-equipping leaders in some areas of ministry. I can’t get in the habit of abdicating leadership in the name of “equipping the saints”.

What about you? How early in your church plant were you able to take a bona fide vacation? Did you have to keep everything running remotely, or were you able to disconnect and trust the well-equipped body of Christ to do it’s thing?

If your wife implored you, could you get right out of town?

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