As a church planting pastor one of the most difficult things my wife and I deal with is watching people come and go. It is so exciting to see new people attend the church, and sometimes we get caught up in that. New people mean more help. New people mean we are doing what we are supposed to – grow! New people help us not feel so alone in this journey.
But if you do church planting long enough you see the new people leave. Sometimes they leave for good reasons (like moving away, or for a youth group,) sometimes for bad reasons (like following Jesus is too hard and they have to give up too much, or because of conflict that is unresolved,) but leaving is leaving, and it breaks our hearts to see them go.
Many people liken church planting to birthing and raising a child. It is a lot of labor, pain and mess in the beginning… then they move into the pre-school phase, less fussing but more head strong, and don’t even talk about the teenage years! And for sure that rings true about the church, but instead of that image for people, I like to imagine more of a foster care situation. You get all attached and fall in love with the child, with all of it’s faults, then they move on… for whatever reason – rebellion, greener pasture, graduation and off to college, regardless it can be heartbreaking. All we can do at that point is hope that God is still intimately involved with their lives and can lead, guide, protect, discipline, direct and love them… wherever they end up.
If you are contemplating planting a church, ask yourself, could you be a good Foster Parent?