I received a text from a friend the other day that described the “Perfect Church Planter.” When I first read the text I laughed out loud because, what qualities actually determine the “Perfect Church Planter?” My friend’s text had a list of qualities given from the perspective of a seminary professor. It was the professor’s idea of the perfect planter. Here is the list: entrepreneurial, energetic, daring, brash at times, empowered, and passionate. Wow, what a list right? It’s a good list and all of these are a necessary part of being a good, healthy church planter. However, my immediate response the text was cynicism.
Church planting has been the toughest thing I have ever done in my life. It has been the hardest thing I have ever put my family through. At the same time, it has been the most rewarding, the most real, and raw ministry I have ever been a part of. God has felt as close as my own skin and as distant as the stars in the sky. I have heard God loud and clear at times. Other times He just seems silent. Your strengths are tested and your weaknesses are exposed. You also sound crazy to your ministry friends trying to describe your feelings. Through all of it the Perfect Church Planter knows that God has them exactly where they need to be and in the end, that is all they need.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the comparison game in ministry. You know, comparing your bloopers and behind the scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel. I’ll never forget Scott Hagan telling a group of church planters to “Stop looking at pictures of church crowds. It’s leadership PORN”!!! It is way better to view “success” as a name and a story, rather than a number.
The defining moment for me was on a drive to the mountains one Monday morning after a very difficult Sunday. I was questioning everything and this was one of those moments that God spoke louder than ever and was closer than my skin! When entering a town in Colorado, the town sign does not list the population. Instead, they list the elevation of the town. This is different than most other towns in America. God ripped through my heart with these words, “Shawn, when you become more concerned with the elevation of my people and not the population of your church, I will then be able to bless you beyond your wildest dreams!”
In my opinion, the “The Perfect Church Planter” is someone who is willing to simply help people get closer to Jesus.