Church Planting: The People You Meet (part two)

This is the fifth 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).

On Thursday I started what I intended to be a two part post on the people that you meet in church planting.  I started out with the people that you meet that are not connected with your church.  Today, and this coming Thursday, I want to focus on the people that you meet within the context of the church you are planting.

Now, because I spent a lot of time and money on an expensive Bible College degree, you will have to bear with my alliteration throughout the course of the next two posts.  Today, I am going to focus solely on the Christians that you will come across while church planting.  These are people who already know Jesus at the time you meet them.  While I have heard some people say that they don’t want any Christians joining the church they are planting, and while I understand the thought behind the statement,  I also know that I can not operate that way.  If it were not for some of the highly committed followers of Christ that came along on our journey with us, I would be permanently camped out in a loony bin.  So, who are some of these Christians you will meet:

  • Barkers:  Back in the day, a barker was someone whose job it was to get people’s attention.  They would stand in front of a booth at the carnival and call out to people, enticing them to play a game, buy a hot dog, or check out the bearded woman.  The tradition of the barker lives on within the church world with what Ed Stetzer calls the “Issue Christian”, someone who goes from church to church looking for someone to jump on board with their pet issue (prophecy, Calvinism, Arminianism, politics, etc. etc.).  While I admire the passion of the barkers, I also love Stetzer’s advice in encouraging Issue Christians to find a “better fitting” church (unless you ARE a great fit for them) as you will be required to spend a great deal of time explaining why you are not as committed to their cause as they are.
  • Bouncers:  Don’t get the wrong idea, these aren’t the people standing at the door to the church deciding who gets in or not.  Bouncers are the chronic church shoppers… looking for the perfect church.  While a bouncer will seem highly interested in what is going on in the church you are planting at first, their interest may quickly fade as they are called to a higher level of commitment.  While we want to continue to help them engage with Christ, we also want to ensure that we are investing most intentionally in those who are deeply committed to what we are called to do (check out Bob Logan’s thoughts on this).
  • Burnt:  We all know people who have been burnt by the church, and I generally love being with these people.  Those who have been burnt by the church, and still cling to Jesus tend to be some of the most graceful people I have met.  These can also be great people to build a church!  You will, however, need to be helping them process their previous hurts, clear on where you are going and what the church will become, and they are willing to forgive those who hurt them in the past.
  • Borderline:  There will be people who have a hard time understanding exactly who you are, why you are doing what you are doing, and won’t be completely sure if you are going to make it… but they keep showing up.  They might attend your service, may be part of a small group, and will show up to an event every now and again, but you won’t be entirely sure why.  I call these the borderline crowd because you are never sure where they stand, until one day they surprise you by buying into the vision of the church and committing to be a part of where you are headed.
  • Bored:  This is a cool group of people.  The bored are those who have been attending church for years, and have come to a point where they feel like they need “something more” in their spiritual lives (it kind of sounds like a spiritual mid-life crisis, no?).  This may stem from a sense of holy discontent, a yearning to make a significant step of faith, or just a dissatisfaction with the status quo.  Whatever the case, what I love about this crowd is their willingness to explore what it is that God is calling them to… whether that is within the context of the church you are planting or not.
  • Bought In:  This is the foundation of any church.  The very core of your plant needs to be made up of people who are bought into what you are doing, and why you are doing it.  These are the people that are willing to make crazy sacrifices on behalf of the church, because they see that God is in it, and they sense the press of the Holy Spirit to be a part of what he is doing.  These are the people that will remind you that you are not insane, and these are the people that will constantly surprise you, and humble you, when you see how God has allowed you to minister to them.  Cherish this crowd.

Have YOU experienced any of these groups?  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.