If you were to ask a random group of Christians what they perceive as the joyful aspects of church planting, I’m fairly certain very few (if any!) would volunteer answers such as safeguarding policies and practices, considering health and safety requirements, or adhering to charity laws. When I was part of a team of people who helped replant a small church in South Liverpool in 2009, I probably wouldn’t have given any of those answers either. Fast forward 11 years, and these aspects of church planting are my daily reality.
I started working as the operations director for the Cornerstone Collective of Churches in September 2020, having been a trustee of the charity for a few years before this. At that point, Cornerstone Collective had three churches operating within it, with a fourth ready to plant once Covid-19 restrictions were lifted. I had a lot to learn and develop to operationally support the next church plant, and God-willing, many plants beyond that.
For churches to plant and flourish into established churches, there are so many things to consider—all the aspects mentioned in my opening sentence, plus many more. And I’ve learned there is great joy in serving churches in these administrative ways.
Joy in Operations
Something which has become clear to me and the church leaders I work with is that these operational aspects risk being a distraction from the gospel-centered heart of church planting for the planter himself. Acts 6 provides a helpful illustration of this potential issue, where it was recognised that the disciples shouldn’t have to “give up preaching the word of God to serve tables” (Acts 6:2).
I heard this described recently by an experienced church administrator as a section in the Bible where the gift of administration is identified as a biblical gift, and this really encouraged my heart. I find joy in completing operational tasks, which are often unseen, as they enable other people to fulfill their spiritual giftings with less distraction. I find joy in completing operational tasks, which are often unseen, as they enable other people to fulfill their spiritual giftings with less distraction. Click To Tweet
Tasks such as ensuring the church’s rental contract is paid on time, providing support setting up church webpages to allow engagement from people, or offering guidance on health and safety requirements following risk assessment completion aren’t exciting or particularly joy-filled, but I’m blessed by God with a desire to do them to support his mission through his church. And that brings me so much joy.
Joy in Safeguarding
In my former work as a teacher, I had a good knowledge of safeguarding children. I admit that attending church-based safeguarding training for youth ministries in the past was not something I did with a joyful heart! I distinctly remember thinking, what is the point in me attending this training? I’ve heard it all before at work. I know I’m not the only one who has had thoughts such as these.
However, in my new role, I have a deeper appreciation for the need for robust safeguarding policies and procedures to protect everyone in our churches. To increase my expertise in this area, I attended safeguarding training last year where I heard something interesting. The trainer said that all of us who serve (paid or unpaid) in churches are called to care for God’s people. Caring for his people must include considering how we protect them.
Essentially, safeguarding is one of the ways we can be biblically faithful in our service. This way of thinking about safeguarding was a mindset shift for me. I’ve tried to build that mindset into my work and encourage others involved in safeguarding to think of it as a matter of biblical faithfulness, too. Look out for someone on your team or in your congregation who might be a bit like me—excited and joyful about serving God’s church in the mundane, unseen, but essential administrative details. Click To Tweet
If you’re a church planter struggling with keeping on top of all the administrative and operational requirements involved in a church plant, please be encouraged to follow the example in Acts 6. Look out for someone on your team or in your congregation who might be a bit like me—excited and joyful about serving God’s church in the mundane, unseen, but essential administrative details. Not only will you be freed up to focus on planting and establishing your church, but you will also likely find that person filled with joy at serving God with the skillset he gave them.