Insights from Unsuccessful Church Plants

by | Oct 25, 2023 | Church Health, Church Planting, Church Revitalization

Learning Through Loss:Insights from Unsuccessful Church Plants

Unsuccessful church plants can offer valuable insight into how to approach ministry and evangelism in a more effective way. Even if the church plant fails, lessons can be learned that will help others in similar situations. By studying church plants that did not survive their third year, we can gain wisdom and knowledge on what works and what doesn’t work. We can apply this new understanding to our own endeavors to increase the likelihood of success.


Church Planting – highs and lows, victories and setbacks.


Church planting is a calling that demands commitment, passion, and a relentless pursuit of God’s vision. As we navigate this challenging yet incredibly rewarding path, it’s crucial to reflect on not just the success stories but also on the church plants that didn’t make it. In this blog post, I want to look at some things they would do differently and find the lessons we can learn for our current and future church plants.


1. Vision: Clarity is Key


One of the most common pitfalls in church planting is the lack of a clear and compelling vision. A church without a vision is like a ship without a rudder, drifting aimlessly in a vast ocean.


Lesson Learned:

We need to seek God fervently, asking Him to imprint His vision upon our hearts. This vision should be so clear and powerful that it propels us forward, even in the face of adversity. It should be communicated consistently and passionately, creating alignment and unity within the church community.


2. Engaging the Community: More Than Just a Sunday Event


Church is not just about what happens inside the building on Sundays. A crucial aspect of church planting is establishing a strong connection with the local community.


Lesson Learned:

We must step out of our comfort zones and immerse ourselves in the community, building genuine relationships and understanding the unique needs and challenges faced by the people. Our churches should be beacons of hope and support, reflecting Christ’s love in action. Here are some thoughts on how we can accomplish this:


Building Genuine Relationships:

Building genuine relationships requires time, effort, and authenticity. We need to approach people with open hearts and a willingness to listen. It’s about establishing trust and showing consistent care and concern. People need to know that we are for them and that we are invested in their well-being, not just interested in increasing our Sunday attendance.


Understanding Unique Needs and Challenges:

Every community has its unique set of needs and challenges. As the church, we are called to be agents of change and healing. This requires an intimate understanding of the specific issues facing our community. Whether it’s poverty, addiction, broken families, or any other challenge, we need to be informed and equipped to make a tangible difference.


Reflecting Christ’s Love in Action:

Our actions speak louder than our words. The community needs to see Christ’s love in action through our church. This means being involved in acts of service, showing kindness, and being a voice for justice and equality. Our church should be a sanctuary of hope, a place where people from all walks of life feel welcomed, loved, and valued.


Cultivating Long-Term Impact:

Engaging with the community is not a one-time event; it’s a long-term commitment. We need to be consistent in our efforts and intentional about building lasting relationships. Our impact on the community should be measured not just in weeks or months but in years and generations.


3. Financial Wisdom: Stewarding God’s Resources


Financial instability is a common challenge in church planting. Without proper planning and stewardship, even the most passionate ministry can find itself in a precarious position. Many of the churches that failed did a few things that could be questioned: 1) Did not adequately raise support before starting weekly services, 2) didn’t have a planned budget and therefore spent too much on things that didn’t really matter.


Lesson Learned:

We are called to be wise and prudent stewards of the resources God provides. This requires developing a sound financial plan, seeking counsel from experienced financial advisors, and fostering a culture of generosity within the church.


4. Leadership: Cultivating a Team of Difference-Makers


Leadership is the backbone of any church plant. Challenges in this area, such as lack of experience or internal conflicts, can significantly hinder the growth and impact of the church.


Lesson Learned:

We must invest in leadership development, creating a team of individuals who are not just skilled but also deeply aligned with the church’s vision and values. A culture of accountability, humility, and continuous learning should permeate the leadership team, driving the church toward excellence and impact.


5. Resilience and Adaptability: Embracing Change as a Constant

Church planting is an ever-evolving journey filled with unexpected twists and turns. Some church plants falter when faced with change or adversity, unable to pivot and adapt.


Lesson Learned:

We must develop resilience and adaptability within our churches, embracing change as a constant and viewing challenges as opportunities to grow and learn. This requires a deep dependence on God, a willingness to take calculated risks, and a commitment to innovation and excellence.

Some of the churches that failed had a plan and did not budge from that agenda, even though their context and demographics turned out to be different than originally thought.


These Churches Failed, but we can learn from them:


When church plants don’t make it, it’s super tough and can really tug at your heartstrings. But there’s so much we can learn from those situations that can help us do better moving forward. If we can just keep a clear vision in our heads, really dig deep into connecting with our community, make smart money moves, build up a solid leadership team, and stay resilient and adaptable, we’ve got a better chance at making our church plant thrive for years to come and really make a difference for God’s Kingdom.

Remember, with Jesus involved in the entire process, all your hard work is never just “spinning wheels” or “routine” – it counts for something eternal. So, keep pushing through, keep learning all you can about church planting and church health, get a mentor who cares, and watch what God does.


Read more blog posts from Jeff Hoglen

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