It is possible that I have a tendency to be dramatic.
I have, on occasion, wondered if my job is the hardest job on the planet and Manchester is the most difficult place on Earth to plant a church. Thankfully, I am a news hound and watch at least two news bulletins a day, as well as reading a few current affairs websites. This means that perspective follows quickly. So I am very grateful that I work for a church, and I don’t mine for diamonds in South Africa or have to plant a church in a city where I am the only believer.
The reality is that church planting does have some unique challenges, but life is good and a significant percentage of the earth’s population would happily swap their job for mine.
Having said that, the first 6 months were really very difficult indeed. It’s at times like these that it feels like your church plant hangs over you in judgement. Your church planting efforts feel like they are a summary of you as a person. It is a very strange emotion to describe. When we had slightly less than no people in CCM:City, it felt like that was an assessment of me as a person and as a church leader. That is quite a dark place to let your mind wander, and so I did my best not to dwell on it too much, but every time you talk to another pastor or planter the inevitable comparisons begin.
The flip side of that is what happens when you get some momentum. The success in your church becomes an assessment of you as a person and a church leader. Ego then becomes a problem. I am not going to lie to you dear reader, when CCM:City grows I am desperate for someone to ask me how things are going. In the good times, I really like when church leaders ask me how it’s going.
So I try to grasp for perspective. When things get rough, which they have done and they will do again in the future, then I remember that I remain one of the most blessed people on planet earth. When we hit a purple patch, I remember what the rough patches were like and thank God for the good times.
Practically speaking, I make myself talk to a few people about the good times and the bad times. They know me and couldn’t give a monkeys whether I accidentally scared 50 people out of my church or devised a genius strategy for growth.
Being able to keep a Godward perspective is perhaps the hardest but most valuable lesson I’ve had to learn. When times are good, bad or largely indifferent I do my best to not get too carried away.