When Your Church Doesn't Go As Planned

Written by Founder Raul Rivera on Apr 01, 2014 in Pastoral Helps

My life today is not what I dreamed it would be

My life today is not at all what I dreamed it would be.  In fact, neither was the church I pastored.  I had big dreams for my small Spanish congregation.  I dreamt it would reach 1,000 or more members and that it would be a great force in our small town.  I also dreamt it would have a for profit arm that would employ hundreds of people and families.  Some of the dreams I had came to pass and many did not.  But I never stopped dreaming.  What I knew was that to stop dreaming would mean to stop living.  It is your ever growing and evolving dreams that will take you from where you are today to where you will be tomorrow. 

Don't dwell on your failures

Human nature tends to remember failure as final and because of it never fully recover from defeats in life.  I know a pastor that has declared to never do cell groups in his church because he did them once and they failed miserably.  Though the facts speak that cell groups can bring wonderful growth to the church, he will have no part of them.  My question is, "How does one handle failure?"  What do you do when your church does not grow for three years?  What do you do when member participation seems to be diminishing?  Like the pastor who vowed to never again allow cell groups in his church because of the potential problems they could bring, many pastors lead their church through the filter of past failures and they quit living for the present.  They fail to maximize the wonderful opportunities that life brings.  Lacking in confidence, they no longer believe that anything they try to do at the church will succeed, and they are usually right.  

Don't Idolize your successes

Several years ago, my wife and I went to her hometown of Sarasota, FL because she was going to be a in a friend's wedding.  During our time there, I met a man who talked about the entire ministry experiences he had gone through in the eighties while he did missions work in Central America.  Yet he had nothing to say about what he was doing in the present.  After approximately two hours of seeing his eyes all lit and face expressing excitement as he shared the wonderful experiences of his past ministry, I finally broke down and asked him what he was doing today.  He had no reply.   I soon realized that he had quit living for the present because of past successes, and he had chosen to remain in the past as though talking about those days would somehow resurrect his effectiveness in ministry.

Don't ever stop dreaming

A man filled with dreams is a cool, refreshing spring in the middle of a parched land.  Dreams will keep your youthful zeal going even if the past and present circumstances speak differently.  Your dreams look at past failure and declare,  "I do not have to be a product of my past," while at the same time looking at past successes and declaring, "More Lord; I know there is more You have for me to accomplish." 

How to dream

There is one thing I have discovered about a man that dreams.  It is this.  Your dreams are not entirely your own.  God's divine design is such that your dreams are the products of those who have influenced your life.  While they may be uniquely yours, they did not come solely from you.  For that reason, you must take advantage of every opportunity to get around people that are dreamers themselves because their dreams will constantly challenge you to dream bigger.

Where am I today?

My church did not grow to over 1,000 members.  I don't think the church ever achieved the status of being a great force in our city, though we came close through our outreach programs.  There were times when I felt that pastoring my church was the biggest burden God could place on a man.  Regardless, I never stopped dreaming that God had excellent plans for my life and I aggressively pursued the opportunities that came my way.  One dream, which began as far back as 1993, I guarded carefully and as a result, it came to fruition.  That is the dream of StartChurch.  The opportunity I have had of living this dream has put me in daily contact with many pastors and leaders, and afforded me the opportunity to challenge and inspire them to dream big about their callings.  Yes, the successes and failures of my past has played a role in forming who I am today, but it is still my choice to become today what God wants.  I challenge you to discover and become what God wants for you, by dreaming big.

A common testimony

A common testimony from our Church Compliance and Ministry Empowerment Conference attendees is the inspiration that they receive to dream again because of what they learn.   Throughout the conference, I passionately share information about how they can expand their influence, prepare for their financial future, maximize their resources, properly steward the young ministers entrusted to them, develop the business mindset needed for ministry excellence, and many more topics vital to leading and expanding churches/ministries today.  Have YOU been dreaming big enough lately?  Your dreams are reflective of the size your God is in your own eyes.  Why not allow your vision of what God wants for your ministry to expand? Spend a day with me at any one of our conferences and you will leave with bigger dreams, and an assurance that God has more for you than you previously thought.

Please feel free to comment. We always appreciate good dialogue. However, we do moderate each comment to ensure that it is on topic and not derogatory to other participants. We ask that you keep your comments brief and pertinent to the topic so that others may benefit.

Raul Rivera

And receive Book 1 of our Grow Trilogy FREE today! This series gives you the strategies you need to get started growing your church plant today!