5 lessons from a Church Planter

Salt Church Greeley was planted in 2022 by a core team that was made up of 30 people from 14 different churches. With such a diverse group, strengths and giftings were abundant. People who brought worship, teaching, creativity, leadership, serving and so many more talents with them. Also with such a diverse team, many opportunities to grow in understanding, communication, and humility were made.

Recognizing this opportunity, Jon Randall, along with the other leaders at Salt Church, leaned in and faced them head on. In doing so, they have walked away more equipped and encouraged with their personal walk with the Lord, as a team, and as a church. Here are just five lessons Jon shares with our Family in the context of staff and church strengths and conflict.

1. Leave your insecurity and expectations at the door. I didn’t want to leave my last church. I even came out with holding on to some things that I had to let go. Not bad things, just differences. I had to come to terms that our church plant will look different. God is not going to do in my case a Citylight Omaha 2.0 or a Salt Co 2.0. Instead, God will do something new! Bring your perspective but don’t hold on to what God did at your previous church. He will do something new. Another thing has been my old idols and insecurities. They didn’t go away when I planted a church, they just got heightened. With running a staff team, my idol is I want to be liked and have people’s approval. From a church wide standpoint, I’ve had to think do I want to be liked or what’s best for the church and for the staff team. You think the enemy is going to work one way, but really, it’s in any way. There are temptations to give into these idols and the insecurities that are resurfacing. Especially with your staff team and co lead.

2. Build a culture of confession. Create a staff posture and lead out of vulnerability, authenticity, and weakness. I have had to say ‘Hey this is a struggle of mine’ to coworkers. I tend to run away from hard conversations or speak truth when I need to. Also, I have found that having some guys in my life to be transparent with is vital. It can be hard to find a few of these people when you church plant and move away to another location. I’ve rekindled relationships with pastors and friends. There are a couple of guys who I call once a month to process my heart and share what is going on. When you have a Family of churches that expands, for those first couple of years, it is important to stay connected with other church planters or friends. I’ve taken trips ever so often to visit and reconnect with these people or with a simple phone call. As the Family expands, it’s important for leaders and pastors to have those check-ins and at a heart level.

3. Practice Matthew 18 for conflict management. I think we would have a better culture if we practiced Matthew 18 more. For instance, if there is an issue, go to that person. How often do we go to that person instead of having a parking lot conversation with someone else and talking about the other person? Are we inviting trusted witnesses into the conversation when needed? Matthew 18 is not saying to get people on your side to make you look right but instead a third party, unbiased people who can hear both sides of the story to navigate through it with both people. The last step should be taking it to the church and should not be used as the first step. Matthew 18 is about dealing with sin. Tim Keller’s book on forgiveness is fantastic on conflict resolution. In the book, Tim Keller brings up the point that most of the time it’s about forgiving people and working through bitterness and frustration. It’s not over big sin issues or moral failures. Its small issues like the tone of your voice, or that person said something and thinks the worse, and so on. If we don’t deal with the small issues, and well, it can lead to massive conflict. Most of the conflict issues on our staff team has looked like this. Somebody took what you said the wrong way, something got under your skin, and you didn’t deal with it in the right way and instead were insensitive to what someone said. Learning how you deal with conflict in the Matthew 18 way is lifesaving or rather, team saving.

4. Take care of your staff and know who they are. Your staff is the best resource of your church so take care of them. The reality is they are human beings. Your staff is a good investment. If they are good at their job, they will equip the saints. If it is an unhealthy culture, it will affect the whole church and the whole church will notice it. Promote fun, vibrance, hanging outside of work, prayer with one another and a family setting. You can’t underestimate those. Hard days will come with long days and it’s helpful if the staff has a family with the ‘I got your back’ attitude. Strive and try to see the ‘small stuff’ on the team. For instance, with the small stuff, our team has a staff calendar with everybody’s birthday. We go out to breakfast and celebrate them. We get to know one another and what we like. Personalize your words and actions towards them. Some staff like to be called out and some prefer a private conversation. Look for tangible and expressible ways to complement them and to show appreciation. Tell them that they do a good job and in ways they receive it as much as you can.

5. Pray and pray more. There will be hurt. I’ve experienced that. Prayer has helped a lot with the hurts. If I am frustrated and begin to say to myself ‘this isn’t what I signed up for,’ I turn to God and say, ‘alright Lord, is this what you want for the church or is this what Jon Randall wants?’ Prayer helps with my heart. This isn’t my church. It’s the Lord’s church. Prayer is a way to humble you.

Jon concludes with the reminder that we are a church planting movement and with that, we need to prepare our hearts to ‘send’ staff and members:

“…in the church we sometimes hear that we are ‘sheep stealing.’ Even if we are kidding, the truth is we don’t own the sheep. People belong to God! Sometimes the thought for me is that I have this amazing staff and it’s almost the pressure on me to want to keep them all together forever. That’s not who we are though. We want to embody Citylight’s DNA to send so prepare your heart NOW. If you don’t, you won’t be ready down the road when you do send. Prepare your heart to send your staff. I must remind myself that I don’t “own” these people. God does. God plants them. If you take this mindset on, you begin to treat them differently and pray for them in ways that are healthier. If you treat them as the best worship leader, best salt leader, best whatever, you begin to see this person who is made in the image of God and that God will use in ways that won’t always fit your agenda. That can free you up!”

To contact Jon, please email him at jonathan@saltchurchgreeley.org.