Somebody has to do it, right? It was the year 2001, and I felt God calling me to start a church. I was ministering at a place in Illinois, right outside of St. Louis, having the time of my life. The CRAZY thing was that God was calling me to a place that was 1700 miles from anyone, or anything I knew: Yuma, Arizona. It’s not the end of the earth, but you can see it from there!
GOD WAS CALLING ME TO PARACHUTE CHURCH PLANT
I did not know the term at that time. In fact, I thought that is what everyone did. They found a place that no one was willing to go, and where they knew no one, and they “parachute” drop into the area to start a church. Little did I know that this form of church planting was NOT recommended. As I now look back, I must say, it was and is tough to be planted in a place you have no connection to. (Of course, now I do)
THE FACT IS THAT “PARACHUTE” CHURCH PLANTING IS NOT RECOMMENDED, BUT SOME PEOPLE ARE CALLED TO DO IT
Since some are called to do this, what can you learn from my mistakes:
1. Do NOT expect growth overnight: It takes time to learn the culture that you have immersed yourself in. I landed in Yuma in November of one year, then launched four months later. That was way too soon. What happened? It took us 4 years to gather 100 people consistently. Why? I was NOT Yuman!! I needed to know people, get connected, build relationships, and that takes T-I-M-E.
2. Build a TEAM to move with you: My wife and I moved here alone with our two kids. My friend Danny Wells and family,who is now on staff at our church,did not move out until a year later. You need a team that moves with you. Personally, I would suggest at least 3 families in addition to yours: Children’s Pastor and family, Worship pastor and family, and Admin Pastor and family.
3. Raise MORE up-front CASH than usual: Since there is a possibility of a slow start and even a year of building a “Core/Launch Team”, you will need lots of cash to help sustain the infant church during this process. You will possibly need more cash than usual to make a “splash” in the community through outreach and kindness touches.
4. Do NOT heavily MARKET your church until you have at least 100 people coming consistently: I made the mistake of marketing our church in such a way that really never matched who we really were. Now, after making our mark in Yuma, if we market the church, many people know who we are and where we meet.
5. At the end of the day, GO with what you GOT: If God is calling you, He will provide a way. Everything you need is right there ready for you to run with it. However, sometimes, we make the mistake of waiting until we look, act, and feel like the monster church down the road before we can actually make a difference in anyone’s life. Just go with what and who God gives you!
I could go on and on with mistakes that I have made. But at the end of the day, looking back on my “parachute” experience, I can honestly say that God called us here and many lives have been changed forever for the glory of Jesus. I am glad that my family said “yes” and jumped into Yuma!
What would you add to this list?
Is God calling you to “Parachute”?
Somebody has to do it!!