About 8 months ago one of our pastors decided that it was time to go plant a new church. At the exact same time as this decision, we had been laying the groundwork for our first multi-site effort. We (the Lead Pastor, he and I) spent a great deal of time praying and talking about whether his new work would be a church plant of our church, a satellite campus, video venue or just have no affiliation with our church at all. Ultimately, our friend made the decision for us.
He wanted to structure this new church in a way that would not fit any of the concepts that we were working on. It had to be it’s own entity with no connection to us.
That was hard.
We looked for a win-win solution for both our friend and our church. He had been a key leader for several years, and a gifted communicator. Our church was better with him, and our church was good for him. We decided that we would try to keep him on staff for close to a year, while slowly decreasing his responsibilities and allowing him to ramp up the new church. Planting a church is challenging, and this would give him financial stability and continuity as he began. It would also allow us to keep him in the teaching rotation, and benefit from his gifts.
There were leaders in our church that challenged me on the wisdom of this arrangement. In business, (and in many churches) once you announce your are leaving – you’re out. But we were convinced that we could make this work. The three us have met together most every week for a time of prayer and accountability. We have committed to communicate and be honest with one another throughout the process. There are times that is easy, and others…well “not so much”.
There have been a couple of significant bumps along the way, especially when it came to the “who” of this transition. You see, his church plant is in the same town with us. Many of the people that have grown close to our friend at our church are now faced with the question of whether or not to go with him to his new church. Slowly that list is growing and includes some staff and key leaders from our church.
For each loss we feel, he feels a gain. He celebrates, we suffer. Just last night we learned of another staff member and key church leader that are leaving to be a part of his church – and it felt like a punch to the gut.
Ultimately, I hope that we are able to find a way to navigate all of this without the conflict that usually arises in this type of situation. We have a relationship with a good friend at stake, as well as the responsibility to take care of the church God has called us to pastor and lead. And there are times that what is “right” just isn’t very clear. Ultimately, our desire is to please God with our actions, and to advance His kingdom, though all means possible. More churches reaching more people is a good thing.
We are still moving forward with our first multi-site launch. God has blessed us and encouraged us in more ways that we ever imagined. Our church has grown in every way possible during this same time frame. But for some reason, it just doesn’t take the sting out of those losses.