Featured Leadership Preaching

The Myth of the Overnight Success

I’m a church planter! And after nearly 12 years of late night visits, early morning calls, and long hours of pure hard work we have suddenly become an overnight success. Queue the laugher from every small-business owner, entrepreneur, and church planter reading this post.

Here is what I have learned about starting and growing something out of nothing:

  1. You Never Arrive until you Arrive

I affectionately call it The Never-Ending Slog of Church-Planting. Don’t misunderstand! I absolutely love the work… but it is work. And, at times, it feels like you’re never going to be able to catch a breath. This is especially true of self-starters. Those who are bold enough to pioneer a new church, business, mission, or small group will find themselves continually looking for the next challenge. Once the church has 80 people and is able to pay for it’s own bills – the pastor begins to look to the next step of a permanent facility. Once the church has a more permanent facility – the pastor begins to look to the next step of hiring staff. Dozens of weekly worshipers gradually grow into hundreds and the pastor will ask himself, “have we arrived?”

The answer will always be – NO! You’ll never arrive until you arrive! Remember, the goal of ministry is not a particular amount of people but a particular place & person. Our goal is to stand before Jesus in His Throne Room with our life’s work as an offering. You will never feel that you’ve arrived until you arrive there. This is why you want to accomplish that next goal, and take that next step, and add that next service, and start that next church. Be satisfied in your relationship with Jesus. Be satisfied in your gifts and abilities. Be satisfied in your current season of ministry. But never be satisfied with your accomplishments until you stand before Jesus and He is able to say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”

  1. The Set-Backs are the Set-Ups

Terrible things happen along the way. But these things are all part of God’s plan. I always find it humorous when people outside of our church speak with me about our church. “I’m hearing amazing things,” they’ll say. Then I think, “That’s because we don’t publish the bad things.” Nobody goes on Facebook and Twitter to brag about the deacon who just quit, the founding members who just moved away, or the bills that will go unpaid. And so we, along with everyone else, give the impression that success is inevitable and bumpy roads are negligible. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We have faced so many difficulties and challenges that we have come close to calling it quits. Yet we’ve stuck around long enough to see that the set-backs are often simply set-ups for God to work a miracle. Look, God is with you and it is He who will prosper you. Doesn’t He care more for your life’s work than even you care? So stop looking at this problem as a tragedy and see it for the opportunity He meant it to be.

  1. Plod Along & Don’t Give Up

Patience and longevity are the keys to success in life and ministry. We have never had a year that we’ve exploded in growth. We’ve added an average of 50-100 people per year since our inception. That’s about 1 family every two weeks. Now that we average over 800 unique people every Sunday it may seem from the outside that our growth has been explosive. It hasn’t. It’s been slow and steady. We plod along. We lead a soul to Christ. We baptize them. We pastor them. We lead another, and then another. The problem comes when I begin getting too impatient with God and desire faster growth than He is willing to give. Impatience leads to frustration, frustration leads to insecurity, insecurity leads to discouragement, and discouragement leads to quitting. You must not allow yourself to go down this road. Plant your roots deep and watch God bring in the slow and stead growth. Eventually, many years from now, you too will suddenly become an overnight success. J

Have you ever experienced this type of struggle? I want to know, share your comments below:

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  • Reply
    Ken Savage
    June 6, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    Slow and steady with patience and God’s support and guidance wins the race. “With God all things are possible” if we do it His way, be in prayer and in His Word daily.

  • Reply
    Leon Stevens
    June 6, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    Well said Pastor…I love this comment: “Be satisfied in your gifts and abilities. Be satisfied in your current season of ministry. But never be satisfied with your accomplishments until you stand before Jesus and He is able to say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”…As you know I have been trying to grow my ministry and it is very slow and it is hard sometimes to just be content with God’s time schedule and not my own….All I want to do is preach. It seems like and easy request and an easy target. I am learning sure I want to preach, but who do I preach too. That’s where God comes in…He’ll lead me to the right place at the right time…Thank you Pastor for this gentle reminder…

  • Reply
    Debbie Downer
    June 6, 2016 at 4:02 pm

    What about those who should STOP plodding along because they are not as called as they believe themselves to be? While your advice is completely worthwhile for some, it is in no way universal for all.

    • Reply
      Josh Teis
      June 6, 2016 at 4:21 pm

      Agreed. There are some who may need to reevaluate their call before plodding forward. But if they are sure of calling then they should be staunch in staying. Good thought

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