Things Church Planting Pastors Wish You Knew

“the nerd pastor” is not just the name of this blog. I am legitimately both a nerd and a pastor. I often wear both those hats when I write posts on here that show how the cultural world is influenced and a reflection of the spiritual world. It has been a fun outlet for me to discuss how my worldview informs everything that I see.

Vocationally, I have been on a journey of a few years now into planting (starting) a church. Beginning with some extended schooling, an internship, a pre-launch period, and now the full on launch that happened on Easter Sunday this past year, I’ve learned more about pastoring and starting/running a small business than I ever imagined. I am thankful to be a part of a group of church planters across the Midwest as we’ve all gone through a lot of the same experiences – both the rewarding and those that test us.

As I’ve discussed with my fellow pastors about planting (from wins and loses to best practices) I began to realize that we don’t have a great outlet to share some things.

As a nerd, I can blog.

As a pastor, I can share what God is revealing and showing me with the church every week.

But there are some things that we pastors don’t really have a place to communicate. Whether we’re afraid to communicate it, are afraid it will reveal too much, or don’t know how to bring it up, there are several things from my discussions with my fellow church planter friends that we as pastors wish people knew. To be clear, these aren’t complaints but an attempt to pull back the curtain a little and show just what it is like to be a pastor and how you can have a better relationship with one.

So let’s take a look at some things planting pastors wish people knew about what we do.

Just because I’m teaching it, doesn’t mean I’ve got it figured out. I haven’t learned it all yet. All the seminary, schooling, reading, studying, and praying does not mean that I am now fully equipped to live a perfect, sinless life. In fact, a lot of the same temptations you face, I face. Except Crocs. I’ve never been tempted by them.

Sunday isn’t the only day I work. Honest. From meetings to giving biblical counsel  to all hours of the day phone calls and requests to preparing a new teaching each week, we are always on the clock. When we drop our kids off at school, we’re looking to make connections with people. When we’re at the kids’ game we’re there for the same reason. When we do weddings, funerals, hospital visits, going to the grocery store, whatever – we’re always looking to connect with people for the sake of the gospel. The commodity that we deal in is souls and human life. The job is never done. We just have time when we have to rest and recharge.

I want your help in growing the church. Church is a team sport. When Jesus tells us to “go and make disciples” he’s not talking about one person doing all the heavy lifting. We’re in this. Together. For the gospel. Without you, we’ll likely become discouraged and eventually burn out.

I don’t just “wing it” on Sundays when I teach. We often spend 20+ hours each week just in preparing the 30-45 minute talk we give on Sundays. A lot of time, prep and practice goes into making it look so casual and effortless each week.

I have feelings and need encouragement. A funny story from this summer: I’ve been working hard at losing weight. I’ve been riding my bike as often as I can (over 200 miles in less than 2 months) and I’m at the gym 5 or 6 times each week. I went to a grad party this summer and someone who I used to go to church with who knows I’m a pastor mentioned the church and then said “Looks like you’ve been putting on weight.” Awesome. We are real people too. Sometimes, we just need to be encouraged, or at least have people pump the breaks before saying things that could potentially be hurtful. “He’s the pastor, he can take it.” just isn’t true.

Have realistic expectations of my family. The planter’s wife has the hardest job in the church. The same expectations that people have of the planter people usually have of the planter’s wife. That’s really not fair to her. She, like the pastor, is not perfect (though I think my wife is pretty close to perfect) and shouldn’t have the bar placed that high for her. Then there are the kids. Our kids are just like your kids. They screw up. They test boundaries. They rebel. They poop in the urinal. Ok, maybe that was just my son who was being potty trained, but you get the point. Being a pastor and having children doesn’t mean that they are perfect either. I don’t act like a pastor to them at home. At home, I’m father and husband. I love Jesus and I do everything I can to teach them and show them how to do the same.

Friendships are hard. It’s a unique job. Sometimes it is a very lonely one because there aren’t many who know what we do. Friendships become harder because we often slip on our pastor hat in social settings. Again, that leads us to the “always on” lifestyle.

I LOVE WHAT I DO. Above all else, pastoring is a privilege. We get to see lives transformed and we a part of stories with people who are changing their lives, their family’s lives, and communities. There is NOTHING we would rather be doing and there is NOTHING that would fulfill us like pastoring.

I AM THANKFUL. Running a church isn’t free and most pastors can’t work for free. For those who have supported, encouraged, given of their time and resources – all for the vision of the church, we are thankful.

That’s a short list of many of the big topics that I think most pastors wish people knew. We want to be Superman, but most days we’d be happy if we just pulled off a passable Clark Kent. We are honored and privileged to do what we do. So if you are a part of church somewhere, I could nearly guarantee that your pastor wishes you knew these things I’ve shared.

And if you’re still looking for me to add the nerdy element to this post then Ghostbusters, football, the Walking Dead.


One thought on “Things Church Planting Pastors Wish You Knew

  1. Rob Kotaska says:

    You think you are the Dude? Donny, please…


    PS: That funny story really ticked me off. Who, this side of Honey Boo Boo, would think that would be okay to say to anyone?

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