Recently Greg Rohlinger, pastor of Palm Valley Church in Arizona put up a great posting on his blog concerning the stuff that Gary Lamb and Ridgestone is going through over the "rappin’ Santa" video. I had a chance to meet Greg several months back up in the Atlanta area and, while our visit wasn’t exactly exclusive or long, I found him to be a Godly man and incredible church planter.
With all that said, I respectfully disagree with one point (point #3) that he made in the above-mentioned post. While I agree that churches should not be in competition with each other, the sad fact is that many are. I also disagree to some extent with the first sentence, "We’re all in this together." I’m not so sure that all of us are. Allow me to explain.
I’m a church planter. Greg is a church planter. Gary is a church planter. Not attempting to speak for Greg or Gary, but a church planter’s job…his calling…is to reach unchurched people. Obviously discipling and growing folks in spiritual maturity is also key ingredients in that process. However, I’ve never met a successful church planter that wasn’t jazzed first and foremost by reaching unchurched people. It’s all we think about.
With that said, I’m troubled by some of the "reasons" I’m hearing for planting churches. Over the last year I’ve spoken at a few statewide church plant conferences, I’ve mentored a few church planters and come in contact with dozens upon dozens of church planters. I’m amazed at the lack of concern for the unchurched by some.
In the last twelve months I have met church planters/lead pastors who started a church because…
…they were tired of being the #2 man and wanted to call the shots.
…got fired from another church and didn’t want to answer to anyone else again.
…didn’t like dealing with committees or deacons or both.
…had a revolutionary way of structuring leadership and wanted to show the world it worked.
…their wife thought it was good idea.
…they felt a need to push a particular denomination in the community.
…they were told they would not make good leadership and wanted to prove people wrong.
…they wre too arrogant and bull-headed to get along on a church staff.
…they felt "called" to further the reformation theology/Calvinist doctrine.
…the parent church was declining and that pastor needed somewhere to fall back to for a job/salary.
…they didn’t want a church to tell them they couldn’t drink or smoke as a pastor.
…it looks good a resume when a big church with more salary wants to hire you.
…they didn’t like to sing hymns.
…they didn’t like to sing praise songs.
…the other church fired me and I want to cause it to split.
…they wanted a place where home school families could feel comfortable.
…no other church would hire them.
…they didn’t want to go through the restoration process for a sin they were caught in.
…church planting was a "tied-me-over" until God revealed what it was He really wanted them to do.
…they had a Master of Divinity and didn’t want to waste it.
With all disrespect fully intended, those are stupid…and wrong…reasons to start a church. If reaching unchurched people is not the goal, do the Kingdom of God a favor…go flip burgers or pump gas…you are not called to be a church planter!!!
My hope is that we will all truly be in this together. However, I’m seeing a greater trend toward feeding personal needs or emotional baggage in church planters than actually trying to reach people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.