by Ron Edmonson
When we started Grace Community Church we were shy about churched people. We started Grace, as most church planters do, to reach people who weren’t attending church. We had a heart for the lost more than we had a heart for the saved. It wasn’t that we didn’t love church people, but they weren’t part of our mission God had called us to do.
If a person showed up who regularly attended another local church, we didn’t go overboard to reach out to them. We weren’t rude to them, but we really didn’t pursue them as passionately we did other visitors.
This practice was also partially out of respect of other churches. Church planters can be very unpopular with local churches, who fear losing church members for something new. We wanted to avoid that tension as much as we could.
In the process, we unintentionally hurt some people.
What I have learned is that many times what we thought we were doing for all the right reasons, to respect our vision and honor other churches, was actually standing in the way of something God was doing in another person’s life. Just as we were being called to something new, and to different groups of people than we had previously ministered, others were also. We stood in the way of that calling.
At the same time, we suffered from a leadership void during the early years of the church. We had very few people who had ever done ministry. People we were reaching weren’t yet in the habit of attending church every week. They didn’t bring their checkbooks either. We didn’t have enough people ready to lead in a church setting who already knew what it was like to be fully invested in a church.
What would I do differently today?
I’d still be focused on reaching hurting, lost, and unchurched people, but I would never shy away from the people God may be sending to help the vision He has given me. It’s good for their personal walk and our public vision.