Knowing When to Transition

Episode 664: Different church planters are wired differently. Sometimes an entrepreneurial planter needs to leave a church in the hands of a “systems and processes” leader. Host Ed Stetzer talks with Michael Crawford and Clint Clifton about their planting experiences and how a planter can know when it’s time to make that transition.

In This Episode, You’ll Discover:

  • How to know if it’s time to leave the church you planted
  • The danger of a planter becoming a smothering pastor
  • How a catalytic planter differs from a Titus or Timothy pastor
  • What to do to prepare leaders in congregation for the transition
  • How a serial planter can destroy a church because of an innate need to start new things
  • That a pastor can stay too long because they believe staying is being faithful

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Sharable Quotes (#NewChurches):

The gifts required to get a church started are often very different from the gifts required to stabilize, grow and multiply. Church planters must understand the changing demands of leadership as the plant becomes a church and matures. @EdStetzer

 It’s similar to parenting. When you have a child, they go through phases. When a church is new, it’s more dependent, then it goes through a phase of interdependence, then a phase where it’s independent, yet still connected. Michael Crawford

We are trying to plant churches that become sustainable and able to reproduce, able to do what God’s called them to do in the communities where they’ve been planted. That requires a certain level of maturity. Michael Crawford

 A pastor unaware of where he is at emotionally, spiritually and psychologically can be a boundary for churches getting to where God wants them to be. Michael Crawford

 The transition from church plant to established church looks like you have a Paul with no Timothy. At some point you get a Timothy or a Titus, somebody you can leave the church to. Michael Crawford

 I don’t think most guys have that kind of self-awareness when they go into church planting. When they head into that space, most of them are thinking “It’s going to grow and I’m going to continue to do this.” @ClintJClifton

 My elders and I came to very clear metrics – the three, four, five, six things we think need to be in place before you leave. Michael Crawford

 When you wake up in the morning, do you think about the church’s address or about the future? A person who’s a catalytic guy, he’s always thinking about the future. The Titus and Timothys are thinking about the here and now. Michael Crawford

 It’s not only a matter of what kind of church you have, but also who you are as a person. Michael Crawford

 It also has a lot to do with who the following leader is. @ClintJClifton

 Some guys, in my opinion, are serial planters. They may not be aware they’re a serial planter and so they’re always changing their church. Some guys have actually destroyed their churches because of an innate need to start new things. Michael Crawford

 A church can only handle so much volatility, because the church is people, not systems of structures and programs and algorithms. Michael Crawford

 Church planting is hard, but is it the kind of hard you would give up if you could? If you are a founding pastor and you can imagine yourself stepping away from it, then maybe you’re not in a sustainable role. @ClintJClifton

 Maturity in a church looks like a multitude of leaders, not just one leader. So sometimes the pastor planter needs to sit in a different seat on the bus. @ClintJClifton


Published May 5, 2022

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