By the end of our first year of church planting, I had worked out what I needed to do. I also worked out what I needed to be. I had some ways of thinking that I needed to keep dragging myself back to.
Ideology – You need a dream that keeps you awake at night. Something to keep you going through tough times and something to keep you grounded in the good times. This is a strange one because I realised that my ideology was only really for me. I didn’t need to talk about it much, I just needed to dream, pray and let it develop.
Pragmatism – Ultimately, if you start a church and nobody joins it then you probably need to rethink your strategy. I realised that to grow the church we need to have everything on the table. There could be no sacred cows. I have seen plenty of church planters get themselves into ideological cul-de-sacs, where theres no growth and only frustration.
Thick Skinned – A lot of people won’t join your church. In some cases even good friends would rather go to the church across town. Learning to not take it personally and move on is so important (and ridiculously difficult). This was actually quite easy for me to deal with because I can network and so there was always another person I could work on! However, it was much harder on the family. We had people round that Vicki really connected with and sometimes they had kids that our kids loved. When those people decide they want to join the big church across town it came as a crushing blow. It’s only four years later that I realised the impact that this had on us.
Sensitive – Having said you need thick skin I also think you need to be sensitive. It has to matter to you. Christ Church Manchester and all the people that sail within her matter to me a great deal. If that wasn’t the case then I wouldn’t be very good at what I do! I also care a great deal about the people that haven’t joined CCM yet. Early on I decided that when criticism comes my way I would listen. Sometimes it was ridiculous, but often there is truth that needs to be heard. If there was anything I could learn that would grow the people in the church and grow the church, then I would be a moron if I wasn’t listening.
Optimistic – I need to have a great hope for the future. I need to remind myself what God’s great plan is all the time. I need to believe that CCM has a bright future. We recently had Terry Virgo on one of our Broadcast Church Planting training evenings, and he explained how he built his prayer life so that he had faith in God and was able to be optimistic even in the face of difficulty.
Bloody minded – I can hear criticism, I can learn from mistakes and I can learn from other people. However, I need to be absolutely bloody minded and not let go of what I think we are meant to do. I decided that I wouldn’t let anyone else talk me out of what we were doing (a few people tried). I also decided that I wouldn’t allow me to talk me out of what we were doing! I am my own biggest critic. Nobody gets more annoyed with me than I do (which is saying something).
Happy – This one is totally about me! I have a tendency for misery/self-pity. So it is absolutely fundamental for my own mental health that I remember how blessed I am. I live in a stable country, have a cracking family, good friends and I am nowhere near poverty, in fact I am affluent compared to many. Church Planting is an easy life compared to many. So cheer up, you numpty.