3 Reasons Church Plants Fail

Episode 631: What three main factors cause church plants to fail? Co-Hosts Clint Clifton and Todd Adkins discuss the role of isolation, conflict among team members and lack of self-awareness in the “slow-motion car crash” of church plant failure.

In This Episode, You’ll Discover:

  • How many church plants don’t make it to Year 5
  • The difference between poetry and plumbing in church planting
  • The role of isolation in church plant failure
  • Why structure and systems matter as much as story and strategy
  • Two valuable tools in putting together an effective team
  • Two basic categories of church planter that affect success

Sharable Quotes (#NewChurches):

Watching a church plant fail is like watching a car crash in slow motion. @clintjclifton

A church planter puts his neck out there and says God’s calling me to plant a church. It’s It’s a very vulnerable venture. You say I believe God’s with me to do this and then you’ve got to close it down. It’s awful and just soul crushing.@clintjclifton

There are no no current statistics but the best I can tell is that about a third of church plants don’t make it to Year 5. @clintjclifton 

Often, especially early on in ministry, we are more competent in poetry than we in plumbing. Church planting requires a different set of tools and skills than running a church that’s already established. The plumbing is what grinds us down. @ToddAdkins

If you’re not able to actually deliver on the dream, it will fall apart quickly. You cast a great vision, but eventually you’ve got to deliver on the dreams.@ToddAdkins

You’re moving from “the old old story” to story strategy. But as ministry grows and increases, skills have to be developed, both personally and within the church.@ToddAdkins

In a sense, every church plant that “fails’ isn’t a failure as long as the gospel was preached and Jesus was exalted. All gospel work has some mysterious promise in it. We we don’t know how it will pan out in the future in terms of its fruitfulness.@clintjclifton

Every single time, without exception, when I’ve sat down with a church planner who’s closing up shop, the term “isolation” has been used.@clintjclifton

Isolation is the No. 1 cause of church plant failure from my point of view.@clintjclifton

I don’t think we talk about Satan enough. Anytime you’ve got somebody isolated like that, I would say that feeling is coming from two different things. One would be Satan, because he doesn’t want you to succeed. The other would be the lack of structure, the systems that take the burden off you.@ToddAdkins

Say no – and continue to say no for the rest of your life – to a lot of things. Work just as hard on your clarity as anything else.@ToddAdkins

in order to serve the church really well, you’re going to have to rob something right now, and that’s the sermon. In a lot of our churches, all guys want to do is the poetry part. @ToddAdkins 

A new church needs more that preaching, praying, loving and staying to come up out of the dirt.@clintjclifton

 You’re clear on your story and your strategy. The problem is you haven’t done anything yet. When you actually start to do this stuff, you better have just as much clarity on your structure and systems.@ToddAdkins

You better be just as clear on your structure and systems as you are on your story and strategy.@ToddAdkins

The second most common reason church plants fall apart is conflict with team members. It’s extremely common, and often those conflicts are terminal for the church because it is too young and weak and vulnerable.@clintjclifton

The third thing in church plant failures is just a general lack of self-awareness when it comes to personal giftings. If you go into church planting without a really good handle on what you’re good at and not so good at, it can be detrimental to the life of the church.@clintjclifton

When you identify strengths and weaknesses you didn’t know you had, you’re going to understand yourself better and set up yourself a lot better for success.@ToddAdkins

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Published January 11, 2022

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