The more time I spend with church planters, the more I see the incredible need planters have for networking. The notion that church planters are independent individualists who prefer to be left alone is more myth than reality. Most church planters, most gifted planters, and certainly the type of planters that we’re assembling in the Excel Leadership Network are leaders who see and need and exhibit a strong desire to connect with like-minded folks.
King Solomon felt the same way:
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”--Ecclesiastes 4:7-12
The need for a network is a Bible principle, and it meets at least four practical needs for planters:
Networking is God’s solution for loneliness
Ministry can be lonely. And front-line ministries such as church planting can lead to isolation. One of the reasons the Excel Network exists is to remind planters that we’re not alone--we’re in this kingdom work together.
I love this Orson Welles quote: “My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people.”
Let’s stop eating alone and ministering alone.
Networking is God’s solution for fatigue
Saint John of the Cross wrote, “The soul that is alone is like the burning coal that is alone. It will grow colder rather than hotter.”
We get tired and cold because we try to do it all, and we try to do it all by ourselves. But God meant for us to serve together. There is something rejuvenating about meeting together with others doing similar work. Sharing ideas (It’s not stealing if you get permission!) can refresh us, it can restore our fire.
Networking is God’s solution for discouragement
Michael Jordan concluded, “Talent wins games, but teamwork wins championships.”
To win, we’ve got to work together.
We all have had losses and downright disasters in ministry. Finding someone to weep with us or finding someone further down the road who admits to making a similar mistake can take the edge off that temptation to get down. And when we move from talent alone to teamwork, we see success.
Networking is God’s solution for fear
Robert Lewis, in his book, “The Church of Irresistible Influence” noted, “Isolation breeds and multiplies fears, propelling the imagination to envision the world as even more threatening than it really is.”
We’re called to be people of faith, to take risks and to chase the opportunities. But it can be scary on our own. Sometimes just seeing what others have done or simply being around other risk-takers gives us the courage to take our next step of faith.
There’s an old story about a professor who heard about an actual dinosaur still alive in the rainforests of South America. So, the professor launched a scientific expedition. After several weeks he stumbled upon a little man wearing a loincloth, standing near a 300 foot long dead dinosaur. The scientist couldn’t believe it. "Did you kill this dinosaur?" he asked. "Yep," replied the rainforest native. But it's so big and you're so small! How did you kill it?” the professor inquired. With my club," the primitive fellow answered. "How big is your club?” asked the scientist? The little man answered, "Well, there are about 100 of us..."
Let’s keep networking, and keep adding to our network!