by Bob Whitesel, 5/19/15.
A student once shared how he felt offended by the cold shoulder he received from pastors of nearby churches of the same denomination, when he went to raise money for a church plant. He said, “When I visited with local church pastors to introduce myself and share my vision, almost immediately I sensed these pastor’s turn their focus on (their)self by their behaviors (the cold shoulder kind of treatment)…We heard statements like, ‘If they invested that kind of money in our established churches we would be growing too’.”
I responded with the following:
Let me explain what I see from the other side of the fence 🙂 And, please hear me on this, I do not feel this is often the fault of these pastors. They are laboring for years in the field, and they need help. Then the denomination plants a church of the same denomination nearby. This can overnight, decimate the older church’s long hard work. That is what they fear. They fear the sense of abandonment they see in the eyes of dear long-suffering and long-working saints, who are now eclipsed by a denomination that gives up on them.
I have worked with hundreds of these aging congregations, and many, many have life in them. They just need the right leader to revise them. One of my friends took a dying church in Tipp City Ohio with 40 people and grew it to a mega-church.
So, I do not doubt they have said these hurting things to you and others. But, I don’t feel the problem is them … but the problem is our strategy. In the business world we would never start a competing organization when we already have a product in that market that is on life-support. It takes more money (and work) to start a new product line (or church plant) that to revitalize an aging one (aging churches have experienced leaders, assets, facilities, social capital, etc.).
But, granted planting a church is faster, for you don’t have baggage to deal with. But in the process we jettison many senior saints who have labored for years in the field, robbing them of some steadfastness in their latter years.
I know you are a sharp student, and a gifted leader. And, I ask you to look beyond those who have hurt you to those senior saints in these congregations that are finding their churches undercut and left behind. They have great resident power, if only we will work with them too.
Now, I’m not suggesting we don’t do external plants. I think we should! But, we also must do internal plants. Both are needed for healthy ministry. Resentment only comes when one receives emphasis more than the other.