Earlier this week I was privileged to join 15 (or so…I didn’t count) other church planters from the Maryland/Delaware area at Ebenezer’s Coffee House for a question and answer time with Mark Batterson. It was a fantastic time of encouragement and inspiration. Batterson is a true entrepeneur in the world of church stuff. Here is a snippet of some of the profound things Batterson shared:
On church planting and church growth: “The first five years don’t count…Everyone grows at their own pace.”
“Focus on the inputs, not the outcomes. Never stop being a church planter.” Batterson explained that he is always focused on starting new works. Even though he now has a team that scouts new locations for multi-sites, he can’t help sizing up rooms that he walks into to.
(While talking about staying focused on your calling) “If you hang in there and do the right things you know something will happen sooner or later.”
“Start thinking about being multi-site/church planting from the very beginning of your ministry. Always play offensive. Never focus on defense. Like Elijah on Mount Carmel, we should always seek to challenge people on their on turf. Don’t do what is easiest. Don’t settle into protection/sustain mode. Play offense.”
“There are ways of doing church that no one has thought of yet. There are new wine skins to be discovered. We need to be thinking in those categories. church planters work in Research and Development for the Kingdom of God.”
When asked about the biggest hurdles the church faced when they first began Batterson replied, “Building energy, or synergy, in the worship service.” In the beginning he explained they had to “lean heavily on authenticity. Play to your strengths.” He spoke about how growth for the first five years was slow. They didn’t hit any of their expected growth goals. “The distance from 0 to 1 is way harder than the distance from 1 to 2 or 2 to 3. It is the cumulative effect. It is much easier to grow from 300 to 500 than it is to grow from 25 to 250.”
“Early on, all you have is theory. You don’t have any experiences to back up what you feel. Spiritual growth is your theories based on Scripture becoming experience.”
On Leadership: “True wisdom has two sides. Find the tension in a decision and live in it. There are no easy answers.
(On building vision) “We overestimate what we can accomplish in two years and under estimate what we can accomplish in 10 years. Don’t just plan big; plan long. Failing to plan is planning to fail.” At National Community Church they plan a ton of stuff that they never do. “It is the process of planning ahead that is important.”
“The worst sins are the sins of omission, not the sins of commission.”
“There is a fine line between ‘Thy kingdom come’ and ‘My kingdom come.'”
In his first years, Batterson explained, the biggest leadership issue he faced was holding the difference between “self-confidence and Holy-confidence. Self-confidence is arrogance. Holy-confidence is an unshakable sense of destiny and calling. You cannot overvalue Holy confidence. It is the statement, ‘I’m called to lead this.’ It is the decisions you know are right that don’t make sense. It is the emotional conveyance that tells people you are the real deal.”
On leading teams: Batterson shared that he begins every team meeting by sharing wins. The sharing of victories, he said, keeps team members focused and longing for that “one genuine story of redemption.”
Batterson explained that they always try to hire internally. That way new people coming in know their culture and can reproduce it.
On Authentic Worship vs. Putting on a Show: “There is a fine-line between putting on a show and doing things with excellence. Our goal has always been to remove every sociological barrier that keeps people from getting to the cross. Far to often we offend them before we get them…1st Corinthians 14:25 describes the line between abuse and misuse. Misuse doesn’t kick out the real stuff. People still see that God is among you…At the end of the day, we are not after the show. We create excellence.”
Batterson explained that focusing on the details of a worship experience is a Biblical practice. He said, “12 chapters in Exodus are devoted to lamps and what the curtain looks like.” He also said, “Focus on the people elements. Business uses the phrase ‘retail is detail.’ We need to be better at the show than the world. But without the Spirit showing up it is all pointless.”
On Stress and Trials: “Blessings complicate your life in positive ways. Sin complicates your life in negative ways. Praise God for positive complications. Stress is simply you adjusting to the complications.”
Batterson’s Final Thought for the Group: “Ministry can become a form of idolatry. The key test – Is God the end all and be all, or is He the means to an end? If He is the means to the end than your worship is of the dream and not Him.”