Staying In Balance As You Plant


Where there is no balance the leader perishes. So says Tommy Gray.

It has been said that the only thing that fails more often than a new church plant is a new restaurant.  Since 63% of statistics are made up on the spot I am not sure this statement is true.  However, I am sure that church planting is a difficult calling.  It can take a toll on your life.

Dwight L. Moody said, “Those of us in spiritual ministry go bankrupt for the same reason people go bankrupt in the world of business—it’s too much business on too little capital.”

How do church planter’s keep a strong positive balance in the capital account?  Here are four suggestions.

1.  Devotional Life.  John records this Jesus’ imperative for us, “I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  Our consistent times in God’s word and in prayer staying connected are essential to our wholeness and our fruitfulness!

2.  Sabbath.  A strong work ethic is essential to effective church planting.  However, it is easy to move beyond a healthy work ethic to an unhealthy workaholic.  Daily, weekly, monthly and yearly times apart for rest and renewal are essential to our wholeness and our fruitfulness!  “Come apart before you come apart!”

3.  Family.  Andy Stanley suggests we should cheat work, including our work as ministers, before we cheat our family.  Wayne Cordeiro says that there are times when the church will need more of our time and attention while at other times our family will need that extra care.  Sensitivity to this balance is essential to our wholeness and our fruitfulness!

4.  Accountability.  I have been blessed to be part of an accountability group with five other pastors for over 25 years.  They have walked with me through good times and bad.  They have helped me process major decisions along the way.   During one of the more difficult times in ministry another of my accountability partners gave me this truth, “You are never as good as people say you are when things are at their best.  You are never as bad as people say you are when things are at their worst.”  This was a helpful and much needed perspective from a trusted friend who knew my life and knew what I needed to hear.  Accountability is essential to our wholeness and our fruitfulness!


Tommy Gray is married to Carrie and the father of Matt and Breanne. And the grandfather of Millie Anne. He planted ClearBranch UMC in 1996 and over his twelve years as founding pastor the church grew to 1,650 in worship. Tommy then served as a District Superintendent in the North Alabama Conference with a focus on church planting. Currently he is one of the pastors at Asbury UMC in Madison, AL and is also involved in developing the New Expressions Network for church planting in the Wesleyan tradition.