Passing The Baton: Handing A Church Plant To Timothy

A successful handover rests heavily upon the one handing off.

There is a danger that we move too quickly and put someone into leadership who is not biblically qualified because of immaturity or because they do not meet the biblical qualifications. The other extreme is equally as dangerous - to have qualified men, but never hand off.  We must believe that God will build His church and trust Him to do it. It is not about "me".

Secondly the missionary must be humble, willing to listen and learn.  He should regularly consult with godly leaders in the local ministry for advice as the process is worked through.

Third, Once the handoff is complete, keep quiet - don't offer an opinion to anyone except God.  It helps when you back off and keep the big picture in mind - this ministry will continue on even when the next leaders does things much differently than you might have done it.  In times when the ministry struggles, the burden must be cast upon God an in no way should the missionary try to rush back in to "save the day."

Here are some practical suggestion for handing "Timothy" a church plant

  • Bathe the process in continual prayer!
  • The handoff should be considered before the ministry begins.
  • Keep the main things the main things.
  • Make sure at the beginning you really get the big picture: what are you trying to produce?  What is your goal for the church you are planting?
  • All decisions should be run through a series of questions regarding the effect of that decision on the end game.
  • Guard against the temptation to shortcut the process for the sake of making things look good in the short term. (Ie introducing ministry and equipment to the church that the mature congregation would never be able to maintain.)
  • Build people not programs or projects - though you will likely have plenty of both to manage.  The main thing is people.
  • Don't do for the church or the disciple what they can and should be doing for themselves.
  • Love people - trust God.
  • Invest your life in people - your life touching theirs - trust God.
  • Intentionally involve your disciples in ministries that will stretch them and cause them to trust in God.
  • Spend much time praying for them and cheering them on - encourage, encourage, encourage.
  • When you have a spiritually mature man who evidences biblical qualifications - give away ministry.  Trust God.
  • If you or your organization has been instrumental in providing equipment, property etc for the ministry, don't take it with you.  Leave it behind, it belongs to God anyway.
  • Acknowledge God's grace in the life of the disciple and realize that your relationship is one of equals - two slaves serving the same awesome Master.
  • Hand it off and get out of the way - keep your hands off, your mouth shut, and honor God's new man.
  • Pray