13 Lessons From Year One at Imago Dei Church (Part 1)
The article was written by Tony Merida, Nate Akin, and Matt Sigmon from Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Thirteen Lessons from Year One of Imago Dei Church
We launched our first public worship service on September 11, 2011. Since that time, we’ve learned many important lessons. We want to share them with you in hopes that they may help future planters. Of course, we don’t have everything figured out. We aren’t experts. We often say, “We’re building the plane while we’re trying to fly it.” But we think these thirteen lessons may help you as you seek to plant a healthy church.
1. Remember It’s All About Jesus
The ultimate goal of church planting is the same goal for all of life; namely, to glorify Christ. Our ultimate aim is not to glorify ourselves or to please others. This is probably an understood principle, but we can soon abandon theology for shallow pragmatism once we get on the field.
If your aim is the glory of Christ, then it should keep you from two major problems, the one extreme of pride, and the other extreme of despair. We drift to pride when the numbers are good, and people say great things about our church; and we drift into despair when things are not going well (from a human perspective). We must keep the glory of Christ as our chief aim to stay out of both of these ditches.
If glorifying Jesus is the main goal, then we will judge success differently. “Success” to Jesus might look like failure to others (e.g., the prophets). Planting a church is not the business world, so bottom lines like budget and attendance numbers should not be our idols. They are important, but not ultimate. These idols can cause us to sacrifice convictions. Remember that if you don’t please Jesus, then it doesn’t matter who you please.
2. Plant with a Team of Pastors
Planting with a group of qualified elders/pastors was so important to us. We believe that plurality of elders is biblical (e.g., Acts 11:30; 14:23; 15:2-6, 22-23; 16:4; 20:17; Acts 21:18; Titus 1:5-ff.; 1 Tim. 5:17, 19; 1 Pet 5:1, 5; James 5:14) and we also believe it is incredibly practical and wise. The demands of church planting are intense.
Planting with a team of pastors/elders has many benefits, including the following:
(1) It protects you from mistakes you could make as the lone pastor.
(2) It helps make up for your deficiencies as a pastor. Each pastor is gifted differently and able to contribute in a variety of ways. Some are prophets, others kings, and others priests.
(3) It makes your job more enjoyable. Ministry is hard and often lonely. Church planting is like a team sport, it’s most enjoyable when played with others.
(4) It guards against sacrificing your family (You will be able to share responsibilities with other pastors giving you time to be with family. “If you lose your family, you’ve lost.” [Larry Osborne])
(5) It provides accountability and encouragement. Many planters quit because they have no support system. Many quit because they fall into great sin. Plurality helps prevent these things.
(6) It allows you to divide the shepherding responsibilities (including praying for congregational needs).
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