Unfiltered: Real Church Planting Conversations

Who do you love?

Episode Summary

Church planters want their people to love their church, but they need to make sure their people fall more in love with Jesus. So how can they manage this tension?

Episode Notes

Church planters want their people to love their church, but they need to make sure their people fall more in love with Jesus. So how can they manage this tension?

0:17 Lee Stephenson introduces the episode topic and asks Danny Parmelee to share his experiences.

1:33 Danny admits that this was a weekly battle for him as a church planter and talks about his key indicator.

2:56 Lee says not celebrating the success of other pastors and churches in your community is a sign you’re starting a downward spiral.

3:18 Lee says he was intentional about creating friendships and relationships with other pastors in the community.

4:10 If you are looking at multisiting or church planting and people don’t want to go, maybe they’ve lost sight of the mission Jesus has called them to be a part of.

5:15 If you’re not willing to send people, it may mean that you love your organization more than the idea of sending and missions.

6:00 Danny talks about the discipline it takes to raise up and send out your best leaders.

7:13 Lee says that most churches in America have an incomplete discipleship process because they don’t include sending.

7:57 Lee encourages pastors to be intentional. "You want people to fall in love with your church. Just be careful not to get it out of balance. It’s a tension to be managed."

8:25 Danny thinks planters sometimes, especially early on, begin to cast too much organizational vision. If we can cast more personal vision — this is what it looks like when you love Jesus and walk with him — we know that the result will be those other things.

Episode Transcription

Lee Stephenson: Welcome, everyone, to the Unfiltered podcast. Lee Stephenson here, executive director of church planting with Converge.

Danny Parmelee: I’m Danny Parmelee. And I oversee church planting for Converge MidAmerica and Southeast.

Lee Stephenson: And we are still recording live from Nashville and excited to be able to hang out here in Nashville, Danny’s hometown. And today we’re going to talk a little bit about just culture when it comes to your church, and specifically I want to focus the conversation on a little bit of a nuance, because I think as church planters and pastors, we can work really, really hard to help people fall in love with our church, where they’re excited about what’s going on in the church, they’re excited about, we have this program, or we have this thing going on and our church is great. And we can put so much energy in that, which I think isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But I think the danger that I’ve seen and even had to fight against is, how do we make sure our people fall are falling more in love with Jesus than they actually are with our church? Because if we get those, if we get those sideways, or the other direction, it’s going to become problematic for us. Because, again, God doesn’t ever want to share his glory. And so we don’t want to take from his glory, we want to figure out how do we extend his glory through the ministry of the local church? How have you seen that problematic? And then let’s talk a little bit on the solution side of things, Danny.

Danny Parmelee: Yeah, well, I can just admit that that would be a weekly battle for me as a church planter, because you’re given this vision, you’re driven. You even see success in the organizational, the branding, the growth of the church that you even forget the main reason why you did it. So I think for church planters even to come to that place to just recognize it might be there more. I mean, they would all you know, church planters that I talk to, “No, of course, I love Jesus. This is about Jesus, not about the church.” But for me, it was just finding some of those different indicators. So when I would hear about other local churches in the area that were reaching people for Christ and baptizing more people than we were, and I got angry, that was my No. 1 indicator, like, wait a minute, if I say that I love Jesus, and they’re creating more Jesus followers, and I all of a sudden felt this little tinge of or reverse that I got excited because I heard this church, you know, that no one showed up to their XYZ outreach. Wow. You know, it was like that conviction, because you keep you know it when you feel it?. And so I was like, ah, you know, so there was kind of continual for me, continual confession, for it. What about you?

Lee Stephenson: I would agree, I think those are key points that we have to watch ourselves first, where’s my heart in this, and if we can’t get to a point where we celebrate the successes of other pastors or other churches within our own community, that there’s definitely like we’re in the beginning of a downward spiral, that’s probably not a good place to go. And so I think we’ve got to figure out. What helped me through some of that was being intentional about creating good friendships, relationships with other pastors in the community, because the more that I was connected to them, and the more that I knew their heart, the more, the easier it was for me to celebrate the good things and the wins that were going on, because I really knew that. And so some of it was learning to intentionally create the margin and a rhythm in my life to pick up the phone, text them, call them, send an email, try to figure out a way to grab coffee occasionally, just so that way I can be in touch with what God is doing there. And I heard it said well. We should celebrate because if God’s doing something great in that church, then we know God’s in the neighborhood. And I think that is a great perspective that we don’t ever want to lose sight of in that process. The second thing for me is, if you are looking at multisiting, or you’re looking at church planting, and people don’t want to go, maybe that’s problematic, because we’ve done a better job of making people comfortable, falling in love with our congregation, or with me as the pastor or my preaching or our music or whatever that may be, that they’ve lost sight of the mission that Jesus has actually called all of us to be a part of. And so if we put this initiative forward or we bring in a church planter and say he’s planting in a church and I know 100 of you actually live in that community. We love 100 of you to go and nobody goes. Then we sit there and go, OK, why is that the way that is it, and maybe there’s something we need to revisit. And I’m all for people loving their church, like, I want people to love the church. But I want people to love Jesus more than the church.

Danny Parmelee: That’s great. And I’ll piggyback off of that, from, you know, starting from the personal place of the planter. If you’re not willing to send people it may mean that you love more your organization than the idea of sending and missions. So I think where we begin to kind of see this is even when leaders, staff members, you know, come to you and say, “Hey, I feel like God’s calling me out,” you know, and it could be a staff member that’s even leaving town to some other thing. And we’re mad because of what we think we’re losing and how it’s going to affect the organization instead of going, “Man, that is what we were designed to do. We were designed to raise up and to send out.” Now I understand, I get that there is a difficulty there. So again, there’s that tension. But I think that this is one of those areas where it requires discipline. And I love the word discipline, because it still recognizes because you kind of can’t change your, but it’s like, OK, there’s the discipline of sending. In other words, like, man, I can, so I shared in one of our earlier episodes about when we were sending out a planter and doing multisite at the same time. And I was having to fight in my own heart during that time, because the church planter was weak No. 1, and I’m going, “Man, I hope people go with but not the good people, and some of you need to stick around to be able to do the multisite, because that’s going to be really cool.” And so again, just coming to that place of confession and going. But there’s a discipline to say I know what Jesus wants. Jesus wants some strong disciples from our church to go out to help this new work, which means we’re going to lose leaders. And we’re going to lose giving, at the time when we’re trying to raise finances to, you know, launch a new site and a new building and hire new staff members. But again, it comes down to that discipline where you recognize it, but you say, I know that this is what’s right. And when you start to do the discipline, it has the reverse reaction where then it even begins to change your heart and you can celebrate it.

Lee Stephenson: No, I think that’s great. And I, we all as pastors know the importance of discipleship. And I think we’re in a time frame, which I think the church is getting more focused on that, which I think, honestly is a good thing. But I would say still today in America, most churches have an incomplete discipleship process, because they don’t include sending as a part of their discipleship and so if you as a pastor, as you’re creating a discipleship pathway, if sending people out the door, to do missions work, to do ministry, to plant the next church, isn’t part of that strategy, your discipleship processes is incomplete.

Danny Parmelee: Yeah. And it will come back to bite you.

Lee Stephenson: It will. It absolutely will, but fun conversation, and I just want to encourage our pastors like, be intentional. I know you’re intentional about helping people get connected to your church, be mobilized on ministry within the context of your church. You want people fall in love with your church, just be careful not to get it out of balance. It’s a tension that needs to be managed. And so walk with people to help them see that.

Danny Parmelee: Yeah, I think one other thing too, is in, we talk often about casting vision. And I think that sometimes as planters, especially early on, we begin to cast too much organizational vision. So hey, someday we’re going to be a church — that X, Y, and Z type of thing. And I think that if we can cast more personal vision, this is what it looks like, when you love Jesus, when you walk with Jesus. And we know that the result will be those other things. So it’s just again, it’s a small thing in our own preaching, in our communication, that the vision that we’re giving to people is this is what it looks like when people are sold out and walking with Jesus.

Lee Stephenson: Love it. Love it. Well, thanks for tuning in, everyone. This has been the Unfiltered podcast. Until next one, keep it real.