The Number One Killer Of Church Planters, Part 2
By Ben Connelly
In part 1, we examined the names and faces of pride in Scripture. In part 2, we will continue this discussion with Israel’s leaders and today’s pastors and church planters.
Pride In Israel’s Leaders
It was the desire to be like God that caused Satan to fall from of heaven. It was the desire to be like God that caused Adam and Eve to fall from perfection. It was the desire to be a god that caused God to harden Pharaoh’s heart and destroy much of Egypt. It was the false gods that Israel worshiped, whose statues were toppled and burnt in Old Testament history.
On and on we could go, as we look from Genesis to Revelation. What has struck me most about the concept of pride is how common it is among leaders. David’s career began as a humble shepherd, and by the end of his life his arrogance drew God’s punishment. Solomon was rewarded by God as he sought God’s wisdom at the beginning of his reign, but by the end of it he had so departed from God’s ways that he referred to all of life as “vanity.” Many kings of Israel and Judah followed one of two paths. Some started by humbly leading their kingdom toward God, and as they experienced his blessings got comfortable and prideful, to their own demise. Others took the throne in a time of existing prosperity, or at a time where God was unknown. In either scenario, they lacked the urgency of holiness and humility, and led their kingdom away from God, also to their demise.
Pride In Church Leaders
The point of this history lesson is that history all too often repeats itself. Few kings of Israel or Judah took the throne overtly opposing God. Some were ignorant of Him; others earnestly sought Him. But over time, they became puffed up, and pursued their own name and kingdom instead of God’s. They even rejected accountability and rebuke, and their pride led to their fall.
Similarly, few planters or pastors lead a church overtly opposing God. Some are ignorant of Him; others earnestly seek Him. But over time, our tendency is that of our forefathers: we become puffed up, and pursue our own name and kingdom instead of God’s. We even reject accountability and rebuke, and our pride, like so many before us, leads to our fall.
Five years ago I led a church planter training in the building of a church whose membership had grown into the thousands but had then dissolved in less than a year. In that space I was struck as I considered my own journey of planting during the first two years, I felt our church was very fragile — that any misstep I made, or any word I misspoke or blunder I made would shut down the church. That’s pride. But even more prideful is that in year three, I stopped feeling that our church was fragile. Whether because of the number of people, or a healthy budget, or any number of worldly factors, my mind and heart slowly stopped depending on God. Our little church no longer felt fragile. But sitting in the building of the church that had dissolved, it hit me like a ton of bricks: “I, and our church, are always fragile. I, and our church, are never at a point where we can be self-sustaining, self-reliant, and self-dependent.” This is the charge that I have since relayed to every church planter we’ve trained.
Brothers and sisters, under whatever name it prowls, pride is the number one killer of churches and planters. Biblically and literally, it time and time again goes before a fall. We, and our churches, are always fragile. We are always dependent. Let us remember our place, seek God and his kingdom, and remain humble — for the glory and fame of Jesus, not of ourselves.