5 Legitimate Fears of Church Planters

By Ron Edmondson

Church planters experience legitimate fears. Don’t be ashamed of that. The key is to walk in the faith that God will complete His plans and enable those He calls.

Having participated in two church plants as a planter, and now working with church planters on a regular basis in a coaching capacity, I know firsthand the fears associated with planting a church. It’s a leap of faith and one God is calling many to these days.

My theory here is recognizing the fears and realizing their legitimacy is part of guarding our hearts against them. The fact remains – for a church plant to be successful, at least in kingdom terms, God must provide His grace.

Keep in mind, Jesus said not to be afraid. I believe that is because often fear is a cheap substitute for trust. But, unless you are perfect – which I suspect you’re not – you’re subject to normal human emotions. The kind church planting produces.

I get it – from personal experience.

Here are five legitimate fears of church planters:

1. No one will show up.
If we do all this work and it doesn’t work – what will we do? You’ll be thankful you were obedient to what you believe God called you to do and wait patiently for Him to provide. We had to consistently remind our core team that God was in control of numbers. Our job was to be faithful. This doesn’t mean you stop inviting people or investing in the community around you, but you trust God will stir hearts for His work.

2. We can’t afford it.
You probably can’t. Seriously – not with what you can see. And seldom is there “enough money” – or so it may seem at times. God calls us to big tasks. Church planting is hard – and not cheap – but the Lord will provide resources for His vision. This doesn’t mean you don’t need to educate people on the needs or help them understand the command, value and blessing of giving, but it does mean you trust God even when the checkbook balance is low. It also doesn’t mean you won’t have to wait to make major purchases or there won’t be times you have to wait until “Sunday’s offering” to get paid. Our paycheck was delayed several times the first couple years so other bills – and other staff – could be paid, but we were never hungry.

3. I don’t know what I’m doing.
Isn’t it wonderful? It means you’re insufficient without His sufficiency. What a great place to reside! The great news is that many have gone before you. Learn from others and stay on your knees before God.

4. People that help us start will leave.
True. Most core teams are cut in half in the first few years. At first, I thought we were to be the exception. We weren’t. Other people will come and never return. But some will stick. And they will have hearts for the vision. And in them we rejoice at what God has done. We build our teams around those God sends to us and who remain steadfast to the journey ahead. The team may change several times the first few years.

5. We don’t have a building – or a place to meet.
No, but you probably don’t have a mortgage either. And you’re raising up an army of volunteers for set up and tear down. You are building service and sacrifice into your DNA as a church. Isn’t it wonderful? Don’t lose that atmosphere and culture of dependency, even when you have a building someday.

Final thought: These fears are legitimate – real fears. Don’t be ashamed you have them. The key is to not live in them, but to live and walk in the faith God will complete His plans and enable those He calls.

Excerpted from RonEdmondson.com. Used by permission.

Published June 15, 2022

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Ron Edmondson

For over 20 years, as a consultant & coach, Ron has helped thousands of leaders and organizations. For over 35 years, he has served in senior ministry leadership roles. He served as CEO of the Leadership Network, planted two churches, and successfully revitalized three churches. He also has extensive experience in business, government and nonprofit work. Ron's education includes a seminary master's and a master's in organizational leadership, and has completed the class work for a doctorate in educational leadership. He also once helped lead a mid-sized city, where he served as Vice Mayor and Finance Chair. Ron and Cheryl have two adult sons: Jeremy and his wife Mary, and Nate and his wife Courtney. They’re also blessed to have four granddaughters: Eleanor, Margaret, Esther and Anna.