Church is not a one man or one woman job! It can’t be mostly because God says that no flesh should glory in His presence. If we could successfully build a flourishing church on our own then it is quite likely that we would become proud and even arrogant. God made us relational and dependant on each other in order to do His will. Eric and I realised this right from the start, we knew we could not pull it off on our own and so we got stuck into recruiting team members right from the word ‘go’!
Before even thinking about planting a church, I would highly recommend building a team that will work with you and support you no matter what! It’s not about quantity but about quality. A small team with the right heart will do so much more than a large team with a bad attitude. Sounds easy doesn’t it, but I can assure you that finding people with a great heart that will just shut up and get on with it is not easy!
Our team started way back in 2006 without us even realising it. They were at our home weekly, doing life with us more than with their own parents. Little did we realise that all the seeds we were sowing were going to produce the future leaders of our church, the church that we never even knew we were going to plant! It’s a valuable lesson to learn, you just never know what God is planning for the future, so do everything to the best of your ability.
At first we tried to lead the church without giving anyone a title. We did this to try and avoid unnecessary arrogance and to avoid people who were looking for a title in our church, but in the end for various reasons, we allocated titles and job descriptions. Titles were more practical and clearly defined roles helped those serving to understand what was expected of them. Despite having a clear structure and detailed job descriptions for each role, we still held back for quite some time before appointing people to these roles. We had been burned by appointing the wrong people to lead when we first started the church and so we intended to be very careful before trusting people with our church again.
Paul gave Timothy some great advice when appointing leaders in church. Firstly he cautioned Timothy that a leader should not be a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Since our church consisted mainly of new Christians it was difficult to find suitable leaders. It was also difficult to remember that they were new Christians because very often I would see their potential and quickly forget their lack of maturity. Many times I would have to force myself to remember that they simply lacked the years that were required to give them the maturity that they needed to lead.
True leaders will lead with or without a title! A title is of no consequence to them and we were quickly able to identify which people were truly passionate about leading. The other bit of very helpful advice that Paul gave Timothy was not to lay hands on anyone hastily and this was something that we adhered to. And so our structure was agreed and some people were placed in boxes to test them out but no one was officially appointed leader for quite some time.
We decided that we needed a Senior Pastor and four assistant pastors – a Youth Pastor to care for under- twenties, a Community Pastor to take care of people and our community, a Creative Pastor to focus on the creative side of church and an Executive Pastor to handle the strategy and administration of the church. We allocated each pastor with three teams to manage.
Eric and I led together as Senior Pastors and I took on an additional role as Executive Pastor as I had a good, strong background in this area. At first our team consisted of Eric, Dave and I along with a bunch of teenagers who were aged from fourteen to seventeen years old. As you can probably guess we were criticised! Some people who came to our church wondered why they, much older that seventeen, were not invited into our leadership team. Those who had been Christians for many years, some even having been to Bible School, wondered why they were not invited into the leadership team.
We were mocked, ridiculed and even had negative comments in the newspaper about our church. Eric and I never doubted the team we had chosen. They had faithfully served right from the beginning, in the days when we were a youth group, in the days where there was no title or prestige, just plain hard work. We knew their heart to serve and we had a special relationship with them. Age was not a deciding factor when choosing our core team and neither was education. A simple, proven passion for Jesus and His church and a willingness to do whatever it takes to build the church was all that was required along with a commitment to serve the leadership and vision of D7 Church one hundred percent.
Needless to say, all the people that criticised and complained stayed for a short time and then left to go to another church. It was usually the ‘old Christians’ that had the most to say, did the least work and criticised the most. It was also the ‘old Christians’ that didn’t agree with how we did things and left our church for greener pastures. However, it was that group of amazing teenagers that were always the first to pitch up at every single meeting, they were the first to roll up their sleeves and get on with the work come rain or shine and they were always the last people to complain.
This is a chapter snippet from The Tale of a Church Planter, find out more about how we set up the teams and how we grew together as a team by buying a copy of our book here. More info on our adventures here.