Saturday, June 03, 2006

Encourage a Church Planter

Geoff and I are tremendously excited over the response to missionmpossible in the last few weeks. As we start to talk with people about training and mobilizing the next generation of church planters, I cannot help but think about our current generation of CP's who are struggling with finances, loneliness or discouragement. Back when I was planting churches in Maine, there were several guys planting there who a)reached the end of their funding or b)reached the end of their rope and quit planting and left the area. I think about those guys a great deal and realized a few weeks ago that I may be one of the few who does. I mean, we hear much about church planters who are successful but almost nothing about those who fail. And I started to think, "shouldn't we have some sort of exit interviews/counseling/healing process with those who leave in mid-stream (or mid-plant)?" And I also realized that these folks may have as much to teach us as those who are fabulously successful.
So we are putting together a new book tentatively called "Exit Interviews With Church Planters". If you know someone who has left church planting and would not mind sharing their story with us, please encourage them to post or to email me at I'm curious to start a dialogue with those who have gone before, and though I know some of the stories will be heartbreaking, I think it is valuable to us to hear them, and valuable to them to have someone listen. I also would love to hear about any programs to help church planters who have failed get back on their feet, get counseling and figure out what to do next. I have never heard of any ministry like this.
Part of our work in engaging students in church planting is just teaching them to encourage church planters. Last year in Toronto, one of the planters we were serving told our group that he was ready to quit and then some teenagers came and told him that he was a hero to them and they wanted to be just like him when they were older. He shared that this gave him the strength to continue with his work. So encourage a church planter today! Just a phone call or email to pray with them will work wonders.


Blogger Kiki Cherry said...

Man, you guys are hitting all the nails on the head. This is VERY much of a need. A name immediately came to mind for me when I read this post.

My parents were Member Care missionaries for the IMB. I have often wondered why we in NAMB don't have some of the same support structures--Member Care counselors, Annual General Mission Meetings, and other places where we can connect and just get refreshed.

I remember as a kid how much I looked forward to mission meeting. It wasn't so much of a "meeting" as it was a time to worship together, have fellowship, and encourage each other. It was a highlight of our year.

You are absolutely right about the problem with isolation and burnout among church planters. Thanks for bringing up this topic.

5:00 PM  
Blogger Roger Ferrell said...

Thanks so much for your encouragement and your passion! Here is an idea: what if we could give a contact list of church planters and church planter's wives (or husbands) to some college students so they can call and encourage them on a regular basis. It is amazing how many of our church planters don't have anyone to talk to, never get an encouraging phone call or someone calling to pray with them. This would be so easy and would make a real difference. This is a way those with a "counseling" gift or the spiritual gift of compassion can plug into church planting!

8:37 PM  

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