Previously, I introduced the notion of “spiritual dependence”. This idea involves the intangibles of church planting, and it’s equally as important as all the tangible “bottom line” stuff.
One of the biggest components of spiritual dependence is humility. James 4:6 says, “But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.'” I believe this to be an important component of spiritual dependence, and my fear is that sometimes pride limits our capacity. I’ve said this many times: I’ve lived on the ugly side of hype and on the good side of vision.
In the earliest days of our church planting momentum a few of us were known for getting things done, and we were also known for our arrogance. When we started planting churches that didn’t have the name “Baptist” in them we received criticism from some corners. Our pushback was, “We’re the real Baptists around here. At least we’re baptizing people!” It was humorous, but it didn’t propel the movement. I can think of another time when I announced to a large gathering that one of our regions “hasn’t been doing beans in church planting”. That went over well! A few years later I publicly repented at that region’s annual meeting, presenting t-shirts to the leaders that showed happy jumping beans with the caption, “We’re doing beans now!”
From experience, let me share with you just a few pointers to push back on pride and embrace humility:
- Never inflate numbers, and don’t allow your good numbers to be rounded up. I was getting tired of church planters reporting their first Sunday attendance numbers, because these numbers are normally unhelpful in painting a true picture of what was happening. (In an attraction-model church plant, the third Sunday is usually the true indicator.) So, I set a rule that we would no longer report grand opening attendance numbers. I urge you to do the same.
- As a leader, every time you stand in front of a group, open the Bible and quickly share something you’re learning. I learned that from Bobby Clinton, and it’s helped me toward greater God-dependence.
- Freely share your failings, both personally and as an organization. You don’t have it all figured out, and you never will. This helps others see that you are honest and true in your intentions.
- Squelch competition! Publicly honor other denominations and networks for the work that they are doing and mention what you are learning from them. Of course, pray for their success. If they’re doing beans, let it be known!
Humility in general is often forgotten, especially in the early stages of church planting, but it is a necessary component of group success. It establishes trust between one another. It allows us to be open, and to be our true selves without being afraid of being torn down.
Purchase Leading Church Multiplication by September 8th and
join Steve Pike and me for an exclusive webinar September 9th.
More details here.