Church Planting: The People You Meet (part three)

This is the sixth installment in a series based on my adventures in planting a church.  For more information on the series, or to see what else we have walked through, check out the original post.  My hope is to use this series to develop a resource for planters as they are thinking about diving in, or need to process their current situation… this resource is incomplete without your contribution (that is a subtle way of saying leave a comment).

Last week I started sharing about the people that you meet while planting a church, focusing on those outside of your church.  Tuesday I talked a little bit about the different types of Christians that you will encounter within your church.  Today I’d like to discuss everyone else… all while continuing to alliterate.  Let’s dig in:

  • Baffled:  These are the people who just aren’t exactly sure what you are up to.  They may be Christian, or not, could be regularly attending your gatherings, or not, but what marks this group is that they are interested in learning more.  One of my dear friends in Baltimore didn’t quite know what to make of us as we were planting a church, at one point insisting that we were moved into the city in order to convince people to vote republican.  The beauty of the baffled is that they will listen, they will wrestle, and they will give you an opportunity to share with them.
  • Bystanders:  The people who watch your church from a distance.  Our community had a particularly active neighborhood association that was highly protective of the area.  As we began to plant, many in the association watched us and waited to see if we were going to be a good thing, or a bad thing, for the community as a whole.  It is easy to miss the bystanders as they will often not engage you in a conversation or make any kind of noticeable effort to learn about you, but they are there… and you need to learn who they are and how best to engage them.
  • Beginners:  This is a fun group of people.  This is the crowd that is new to the idea of church.  Whether they came to faith through your ministry, are checking out church for the first time, or what ever the reason, this group tends to have a bunch of questions, few reservations, and can be a lot of fun to worship with.
  • Burdens:  I realize that this might be a harsh term, but it is an honest one.  There are people we will encounter who are in deep need of being cared for.  Whether they are struggling with addiction, poverty, marriage issues, or whatever it may be you need to be prepared for the people that have deep needs that you, and your young team, may or may not be able to handle.  Knowing your limits is key in this situation, and developing a network of resources and partners that you can refer people to is critical to your ability to care well for those with deep, heavy burdens that you can not handle on your own.
  • Bozos:  Whenever there is a move of God afoot, there will also be those who work against it.  In some areas it may be a mayor chasing churches out of public schools, in others it might be other churches, or it could be crazy Uncle Ricco who tries to extort money out of the church and slashes your wife’s tire when it doesn’t work (just sayin… it could did happen).

Which of these people have YOU met?  Who have I missed?


About the Author: Matt Steen

I love Jesus, Theresa (my wife), the Redskins & Capitals, and am currently living in Waco, Texas where I am studying the finer points of BBQ (while working on my MDiv and MBA at Baylor University). When not studying, I serve church leaders through MinistryBriefing.com and am the Director of Connections for Harris Creek Baptist Church's Downtown Campus.