So, you’re currently reading through the book of Acts, or have recently read a book or even attended a conference on the topic of church planting. Maybe none of the above. However, the Lord is stirring your heart as a staff pastor toward multiplying God’s kingdom through church planting.
Over the next few weeks, you begin to share this conviction and desire for your church to get involved in this movement through praying and partnering. The only problem is, your senior pastor does not share the conviction or passion. The stirring in your heart does not equate to a shift in his. What do you do now? How do you get him to buy in? Do you leave? Do you stay?
Let me offer you three biblical and practical steps to help shape the heart of your senior pastor and his leadership circle of influence:
Don’t push, pray.
Someone once shared with me that getting ahead of God’s will is just as much a sin as not doing God’s will. I have loved those words of wisdom, and they have often saved me from making some extremely bad decisions as a leader. Quite often, our emotions take over, and we are no longer being guided by the Holy Spirit. So be careful! Prayer must not be the last thing we do, but the first.
We must remember God is working in our waiting. There is a reason that, of all the miracles Jesus performed, the disciples never asked Him to teach or reproduce them, but what they did ask Jesus for was to be taught how He prayed. I am convinced we will never be stronger than our prayer life. Don’t push your pastor; rather pray for and with him.
Ask him to take the Luke 10:2 challenge and pray every day at 10:02 or at least once a week as a staff at 10:02. Begin praying for church planters in your neighborhoods or around the nation. Remember, the Lord must first do a great work in you before He can do a great work through you. It starts with prayer.
Don’t challenge, cultivate.
The last person you want to become is the leader in every staff meeting that becomes the voice of opposition for every decision made. Yes, you may see things differently. And yes, you may want to see the mission and vision change. However, there’s a right way and a wrong way to lead for change. Don’t challenge your senior pastor to a theological duel every opportunity you get; rather cultivate a relationship built on trust.
Maybe he’s not against church planting, but has just never been exposed to the principles of planting a church or even to a church planter. See if he would be interested a taking a CTV (Catch the Vision) tour to one of NAMB’s Send Cities and meet several planters to consider praying for and potentially partnering with. Another major benefit would be the ability to network with other senior pastors who also are considering entering the planting family.
Don’t leave, lead.
You can never lead someone to a place you have never been yourself. In the process of praying and cultivating a culture of planting, begin to take the lead among your team in this area with the blessing of your senior pastor. The easy way out is to roll out and move to another church or ministry context. Now, if the Lord is indeed calling you to make a move, then follow his leading. However, remember that for the room temperature to change, someone has to be the thermostat.
Offer to lead the prayer initiatives among your leaders and the church family. Begin to network within your leadership of the church to discover, develop and eventually deploy any guys who may be stirring just like you.
For the sake of the kingdom, don’t push, challenge and leave. Instead, pray, cultivate and lead with and for your senior pastor to have a heart of multiplication, rather than addition.
Jeremy Westbrook is senior associate pastor of Calvary Church in Clearwater, Florida, and a former church planter. This article originally appeared on NAMB.net.