After using my material, they contacted me and asked me if I could send them some of my preaching DVD's...and I did. A few weeks later, they called and informed me that over thirty people were showing up every Friday evening to watch the preaching videos. So I said, "Heck, let's plant a church!" And we did...sort of. We rented a building, came up with a name, and set a launch date with a launch team of about thirty people. I spent the next five months or so flying to Dallas Texas every other Thursday, preaching Friday night, and flying back to Kentucky on Saturday to preach at my church on Sunday. On the off weekends, they would watch me via video. Our attendance got up to around 115 on the weekends I would be there and around 70-80 when they used my video. In 2009, we installed a flesh and blood pastor. Today they remain a recovery church, sharing Jesus with men and women who struggle with substance abuse.
In the beginning, my vision was, to begin as a total recovery church, but to morph into a church with a recovery ministry. However, it never worked out. That's not totally a bad thing (people still found Jesus) but I missed the blessing of seeing something much bigger because of my inexperienced, stupid decisions.
Now that I look back, here's the things I really screwed up on.
- I didn't take the time to read the right books or talk to the right people.
- I thought that preaching alone was enough to create a successful church.
- I allowed the "rock star" mentality to seep in, which created foolish pride.
- I put the wrong campus pastors in place and I was never clear enough on the vision.
- I didn't cast vision well to my church in KY, which caused jealousy and people worried that I was going to move to Dallas.
- Dallas was just too far to be a successful video venue (at least for us).
If you're a new planter, be sure you don't do any of these things. Since then, I have hooked up with successful planters like Charles Hill, David Putman, Michael Robinson, Artie Davis, and Dave Anderson, among others. These guys have help me get my arms around what church planting should look like. Looking back, I am awestruck by the mercy of God; despite my foolish mistakes, people still found Jesus and was baptized. But I still wonder, "What could've been?" had I taken the time to plan well.
Today our church is in partnership with www.plantingthegospel.com and I serve as a coach with The Sticks Network. And one thing I always tell my guys is, "Church planting should never be accidental...but always intentional and directed by the Holy Spirit."