One of the principal motivations for planting new churches is to reach people no one else is reaching. In my opinion, that is the only reason to plant new churches. Admittedly, people who love unchurched people will want to join a church planter in the adventure, but beware of church people because they will derail your church plant.
I know that statement is a bit brash and even could be considered un-spiritual and crass but planters everywhere will tell you that the primary problems in planting a church do not come from the outsiders you are trying to connect to, but the insiders you often have to deal with. This is primarily because church people want to plant a church and unchurched people don’t care about attending a church. In order to resolve this conflict of interest a planter should focus their attention on inviting kingdom minded people to join them in the church planting effort. A description of the differences might aid our understanding the distinctions.
Some church people want a church that is like the church they currently attend. They deeply believe that church should be like the church they are a part of and they join a church planter under the assumption that all churches, including this new one, will have music, teaching, missions and services similar to the church as they understand it should be. The other option is that church people want a church unlike the church they currently attend—a newer, better, more to their tastes church than their current church. They join a church planter under the assumption that music, worship styles and teaching will all be very different than what they have been settling for and that the new church will meet their every expectation. Either way, church people have a very distinct idea about what the new church should be like and that idea is centered in their preferences.
Kingdom minded people, on the other hand, join a church plant with the idea that decisions about music and worship styles, teaching emphases and discipleship will be based on the needs of the unreached population in their area. They may have personal opinions or preferences about many of the parts of the new church plant, but they suspend those preferences in order to bend to the preferences of the unchurched in their area. The Kingdom minded person has only two distinct ideas about what the new church should be like—that it be Gospel centered and, that it reach unreached people. Everything else is negotiable because of their love for unreached people and their desire to see them come to Christ.
Here is the hard reality that a church planter has to deal with, however; church people will seek out the planter. But, planters have to seek out kingdom people. Church people will see the church plant as an opportunity to step into a leadership role they were not afforded at their current church. They will be the first to sign up and show up at any informational gatherings. They want a say from the very start of the new church. Kingdom people will hang back and wait to hear the church planter’s vision. Kingdom people want to be a part of the magnificent thing God is doing in a new church start, but they want to hear from the church planter that “the magnificent thing that God is doing” is what the church plant is going to be about. So while church people will come looking for the church planter, the church planter will have to go looking for Kingdom people.
Just how does the church planter seek out these Kingdom people? Vision. Cast a compelling vision for Kingdom advancement. Make the vision about people who don’t even go to the church yet instead of the people in the core group. When you do, the people who want it to be about them will drop out or fade away and the people who are in love with the Kingdom and its King will step up.
Church people will derail your church plant but church plants weren’t meant for church people—they were meant for unreached people and God’s glory (John 15:8). Unreached people are reached and God receives great glory as the Holy Spirit is poured out on Kingdom people for the work of starting a new church!