*A few months ago, I had the privilege to assess Don Dudley and his wife for the Acts 29 Network. I appreciate his desire to help other men and his willingness to share part of his story with us. Thanks, Don.
I was hired to help a struggling church replant.
I had about 25 people in my core group who seemed eager to do anything it took to keep their church alive. Unfortunately, I discovered some unscrupulous behavior going on behind the scenes. When I confronted those responsible, I quickly lost about half of the group. I was bound and determined to replant the church and thought I could hold out a few months until we were assessed by the Acts 29 Network. It was not until after we were assessed that I really discovered we really had no committed members other than my wife and me. After this realization, I started to whisper dangerous prayers.
Was I supposed to pull the plug on this church plant?
I was meeting with Pastor Kevin Jamison from The Oaks Community Church. He asked me if I would end the church plant and join the Oaks. My gut feeling was to say an emphatic “yes” but I was afraid. On one hand, my pride was about to be crushed. On the other hand, I was relieved. The seemingly endless cycle of frustration was coming to an end.
I swallowed my pride and called it quits.
For a couple of months I had a hard time seeing any good coming from my situation. I realized later how merciful God was to me.
- He saved me from planting a toxic church.
- My pride and anger were controlling our church plant.
- I was spiritually unhealthy and not a good leader.
If you find yourself in the same position, let me share a basic “exit strategy.” Before we do, I want you to know that
Ending a church plant does not make you less of a Christian.
You have probably spent months or years listening to the glorious tales from other church planters. You may be sinfully comparing yourself to others. Like me, you need to know that ending what could become a horrible situation for everyone involved is not a sign of weakness but strength.
The “Exit Strategy:”
- Pray. Let the Holy Spirit counsel and guide you. Ask God to minimize the damage and hurt relationships which are sure to follow.
- Repent. Chances are you have been disobedient to God and have sinned against others.
- Seek wise counsel. Ask questions and get advice from the godly men in your life on how to glorify God during this transition.
- Keep all your actions out in the open. Make others know exactly what is happening to all the resources (money, sound gear, supplies, etc.). Leave a paper trail. If you experience any backlash, allow someone else to take care of the resources. Make sure you have signed over the property to them. It might be worth it to seek legal counsel.
- Get away. Clear your head. Spend time with your wife and kids (you will probably need to repent to them for ignoring them over the last few months while you tried to keep the ship from sinking).
- Join a Gospel -centered community. Let them love on you and your family. Submit to their authority and use their resources to grow as a husband, father, and leader in the church. Join their mission and serve your community.
- Seek God’s will for your life. Pray, read your Bible, and pastor your family while you wait for God to reveal to you the next steps in your life.
The last thing you should do – though you may want to – is curl up in the fetal position and die.
It’s not the end of the world, just the end of a season.
One thing is certain – you do not have time for self loathing and whining.
There is a world out there in need of the Gospel regardless of your title or position; it is your job to spread it.
- Don Dudley