Last night I made a church planting mistake. I’ve been planting a church in the Canal District of San Rafael, CA for about the last month. This is a church plant among previous non-Christians. I’ve already had people come to Christ. However, last night was like a comedy of errors. Long story short, I didn’t connect up with the group even though they were waiting for me.

As odd as it may sound, I’m not all that afraid of making mistakes. In fact, if I go back to the year 2001, when I first started trying to plan simple churches, I could write out a whole list of incredible wrongheaded blunders. Blunder number one: trying to plant churches by gathering Christians then adding non-Christians to them. It never worked, but it was frustrating. Blunder two: thinking that techniques would help me. Blunder three: having pair of apostles try to become the “pastors” of a network of new churches…that was a huge one, which killed over 30 churches and stopped a small movement dead in its tracks.

The point is this, I’ve been a part of a lot of huge simple church planting mistakes. But I was always doing this with Jesus and that is the decisive issue. Jesus knows how to redeem mistakes. Jesus knows how to teach us the most important lessons through pain. The apostles made mistakes with Jesus. James, John and their mom tried to pull a coup de etat; Jesus turned it into an unforgettable lesson in leadership. Peter denied Jesus three times; but Jesus used it as a lesson in his life about the difference of living in the flesh and living in post-Pentecost power. Peter on the night of Jesus’ betrayal; all talk no follow through. Peter on the day of Pentecost; 3,000 men come to Christ in incredibly empowered preaching. None of the apostles could stay awake and pray in Jesus’ critical hour of need…and he rebuked them. But from shortly thereafter they dedicated themselves to the ministry of the word and prayer. They had learned their lessons.

Are you learning your lessons? Are you out there with Jesus trying and willing to make mistakes? Jesus doesn’t demand perfection of you; but he is looking for heart, action and follow-through. Once you get moving, he can direct you. If you are stuck in place, afraid to making a mistake, you have made the biggest mistake of all. But don’t stop listening and don’t discount the importance of Jesus teaching you some important lessons through your mistakes. You probably have many years ahead of you. Go, make disciples and watch what Jesus can do, with you, through you and in you.

For more posts on Jesus centered apostolic ministry and church planting see: Jesus as the Cornerstone, Building on the Right Foundation, Starting on the Wrong Foot, Cesar, Man of Peace, Integrity and Ministry with Jesus as Lord.

  • How long is your list of mistakes?
  • What lessons have you learned through them?
  • Are you willing to share with us what you have learned and how?
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