One of the things we discussed while we were there was how easy it is for church planters to try to "go it alone." It's not only easy. It's our tendency. Church planters are typically mavericks and pioneering types that will sometimes buck the trends to pave new paths of ministry. But the obvious weakness of this is that when you're always out front, it can become easy to find yourself alone.
It could be easy to say, "Well, that wouldn't happen to me!" Really? I think we can all to easily begin to think we're an exception to the rule, or think that we wouldn't fall victim because we're somehow "different." We imagine that if we were to burn out, the symptoms would present themselves in outbursts of anger and a short fuse. But when church leaders fall into burnout, they don't typically "go postal" in the traditional sense. They rarely "explode." No, they IMPLODE. You're far more likely to see a church leader falling into a secret affair or get caught using church funds questionably than you're ever going to see them in a physical altercation. Whatever the result, it's important for church leaders to think NOW about how they'll prevent these sort of things from happening.
Clearly, this can become a real problem, especially since the church planter is SUPPOSED to be setting the example for the church they're leading. Nothing could be more damaging to a young leader to watch as their pastor burns out or implodes because they chose to ignore their own need for community and accountability.
But this isn't just a pastor issue. This is a HUMAN issue. It's not just pastors that have to think about things like healthy community, habits, and accountability. I'm not presenting solutions here. I'm just pointing out the issue. As a pastor and church planter, I have to be thinking about how I can guard myself in the long run. Will you pray for me in this?
And what about you? After all, if it's not just pastors, how are YOU responding to these things? Who is "community" for you? Who is a same-gender person you can go to with your issues and vent with no fear of rejection? Do you have habits and guardrails in place right now to help prevent you from imploding?
It's not just important. It's vital.