I tell church planters, “If you can’t show someone the door and go home and sleep well that night, you shouldn’t plant.”

One of the things we’ve learned over the years is that planting a church is hard, lonely work. If you can’t let criticism run off your back like water off a duck and aren’t able to tell people to leave and not come back, the odds are you won’t be a successful church planter.

When doing a church planting boot camp I often say, “To be a successful church planter you have to be able to show contentious people – or people who want to do church their way rather than your way – the door, and don’t let it hit you in the butt! If you can’t do that, you can’t be a successful church planter.” After I say this, I love to watch the expressions on my listeners’ faces. Some are blown away. Others are offended and alienated.

In order to be able to show someone the door without it bothering you, you must have three things.

  • Clarity about what you’re called to do. You must be called to plant a church. Church planting requires so much of you that you’ll fail if you aren’t confident that it is something God wants you to do.
  • Clarity about who you are. Church planting takes so much out of you that it’s vital to know who you are and what you really value.
  • A big heart for people. If you have a big heart for people, you will be able to show someone the door without feeling bad because you know you have taken the difficult but necessary first step in helping that person know that their behavior is inappropriate.

Holding people accountable isn’t being mean; it’s helping them grow. Allowing someone to get away with all manner of mean-spirited actions is being unfaithful to the Gospel.

Let’s all remember that Jesus showed Judas the door at that last supper and he was the most gracious person who ever walked this earth. Why did he do that? Not because it was foreordained, but because the journey he was on was too important to allow anyone to get in the way by grumbling. In church planting the saying “it only takes one rotten apple to spoil the barrel” is true multiple times over. We have never seen a church turn around that didn’t lose some people in the beginning. The same is true with church planting. You must be prepared for telling some people to leave and not come back until they get their spirit right.

If you feel uncomfortable with what I’ve said in this blog, perhaps you shouldn’t plant.

Question: Have you ever had to show someone the door in the church planting process? What did you learn from your experience? Share your insights in the Comments section below.