This is a no-brainer, right? Everyone knows this. Hold gently. Swaddle securely. Protect from all manner of injury at all costs. New and expecting families pay billions of dollars for monitors, safety gates, cribs, carriers, high-chairs, strollers, and car seats for the sole purpose of protecting the baby.
No one thinks of punching a baby. Well, almost no one. Unfortunately, in this fallen world, the unspeakable happens. It is gut-wrenching and heartbreaking every single time it does. New churches also suffer punches because the church planter lacks the courage to stop it or the ability to recognize the abuse happening on their watch.
Here are three “people punches” you must deflect for the sake of your newborn church:
My wife wouldn’t just let anybody hold our infant children. She had instincts and acted on them. You did, too. Do it for your infant church as well. There will be some people who walk into your church that your church can’t help. As a newborn church you have a limited amount of financial and human resources. Saying “not yet” now will allow you to say “yes” later on. But, saying “yes” now may kill your newborn church.
Jesus Christ has called and equipped you to preach his gospel and plant your church. Paul has written you thirteen letters telling you how to do it. And neither men tolerated religious people. Why would you?
“But, they’ll give money.”
No, they won’t.
“But, they know the Bible.”
No, they don’t.
“But, they come to church consistently.”
Maybe, but that is about your idolatrous, numbers-based self-worth.
You’ve been called to proclaim the gospel and raise up an army of missionaries. Who cares how many angels can fit on the head of a pin. Religious people herald a false gospel that will suck the life out of your newborn church. Don’t let it happen. Speak the truth in love, admonish them, and ask them to leave if need be.
Newborns demand a lot of your time and attention. It takes commitment to raise a child and plant a church. You don’t want the people who won’t come until you “start services” or “get a building” or “have a youth ministry.” There is nothing wrong with any of those things or with wanting them. But if they are conditions for attendance, rest assured those people are more committed to comfort than the mission.
Other churches can comfort them well. A newborn church can’t. It sets a toxic culture loose in a small environment that will soon become gangrenous. And newborns and gangrene don’t go well together.
Don’t Punch the Baby
If you have any pastoral proclivities at all, you will be inclined to help any and all who walk into your gathering. I get it. I spent sixteen years pastoring established churches before church planting. But hear me out. Established churches can take hits that your newborn church cannot. Don’t beat yourself up for this. Infants have limited capacities. They are not loan officers or life coaches or psychiatrists. Every one of these aforementioned people punches will poison the culture of your church if they are suffered too long. You absolutely cannot allow this for your newborn church.
As the planter, you are the guardian of this newborn church. God has entrusted her to you. Satan hates her and will use every scheme and attack he can to destroy her. He will send wolves who don’t know they are wolves. Be a good shepherd and be alert. Don’t let these people punch the baby.