Surviving and Thriving – Army Stories

The Sargent Major barked to a roomful of raw recruits: “From six o’clock in the morning until six o’clock in the evening you’re on the Queens time – get it moving gentlemen!”

After high school I had three options: I could go to college or university, but I had no money, and less-than-spectacular grades. I could enter into the workforce in a lousy economy with zero to few job options. Or, I could transition from the Army Reserves into the Regular Force—and that’s what I did.

The military taught me lots of things, most of which I can’t share in print. However, three things I will share because they’ve had a major impact on the Church Planting ministries that I’ve been involved with.

  1. In the Army they teach us to know everything we could about the mission we’re engaging with: local people, conditions, culture, landscape, history, places of influence, strengths, vulnerabilities and on and on. Should church planters take the time to know everything they can about the community they’re working in?  Sounds like Church Planting 101!
  2. Napoleon spoke of how an army operated on its stomach. In other words if you weren’t well fed and looked after it was hard to hold up over the long haul. In the same way, successful Church Planters need to look after themselves, their families and their leaders in ways that are healthy and long lasting. Which approach are you taking to mission and ministry—the marathon or the 100-yard dash?
  3. I joined up with the Army because I needed a job. The military helped to train me and sustain me while I developed, matured and grew into the person I needed to be. Many Church Planters are bi-vocational—one of our Planters was quad-vocational. They work hard and long developing the relationships that will grow and enhance ministry long term. Some of our Church Planters have told me that they will always be bi-vocational and have no desire to be fully employed by their church, but I’ll discuss that point in another article. Being employed outside of the Church Plant provides a helpful perspective on the people we minister to and with.

Geoff Surratt’s article “Church Plants Made to Stick” offers some interesting perspectives on church planting sustainability. Don’t skim the article without looking at the 5 Responses at the bottom.

Now, get down and give me 50 pushups!

Tom

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