I’ve always resonated with the cry of the Toys R Us kid. I don’t want to grow up.
This renunciation of my faithful parents’ work toward my maturity didn’t just effect my learning (I wanted to be ‘well-rounded’, and so I raced toward popularity through jock-dom at the expense of doing things like reading).
This renunciation didn’t just effect my college major choices (I rejected my dad’s insistence that I would be very good in the business world, and in sales and marketing in particular, and opted instead for a dream of loafing around while teaching high school social studies and coaching football).
This renunciation has ultimately effected my pursuit of church planting.
While I proclaimed the evangelistic advantages of planting new churches, I was more-than-just-a-little-bit interested in escaping what I perceived to be a rather stuffy, adult ecclesiastical environment. In some ways, I wanted to have a license to not grow up. To not be the adult my age was trying to make me.
What have I learned in church planting? What is the one big piece of counsel I might give to prospective church planters?
Be the Grown-up in the room.
You can only play cool for so long. You can only ‘contextualize’ your philosophy of ministry toward young and/or less mature people in your community to a certain degree before it becomes plain to your wife, to the actual adults there might be in your church plant, and, finally, to you, that you’re really just trying to not grow up.
Church planting is not nearly as hard, in my experience, as people said it would be. So much of the great stuff that’s happened has seemingly just happened.
But what the experience has done to me is exactly what I hoped to avoid by entering into it. Church planting has forced me to be the adult in the room. To say the tough thing that needs to be said. To say something “spiritual” when everyone else might be content to just go on chewing the fat. To stop trying to be everybody’s buddy and to start being who I’ve actually be called to be: their pastor.
To a great extent, church planting has pressed forward the task that marriage began and children carried on. It has made me reckon with the fact that the most selfless, loving thing I can do in many instances is to simply play the part of the grown man.
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)