Plant For The People Not The Project

by May 5, 2021

You’ve often heard it said that desperate times call for desperate measures. For the Church, desperate times call for distinction of priorities. The crowd funded thermometer, although close to its goal is still on the wall, construction plans are still on the drawing board but it may be time to shift our focus. Projects are good for momentum, but when things are getting shaken people will always be our motivation.

In a time where attendance may be questionable and tomorrow is unpredictable, what would it look like if we put the building project on hold to set our focus on building into people? In addition, what good is a new building or project without the people to experience it?

Here are three reasons why building into people in this season may set us up for a greater return when the Church is back operating at full strength.

In times of obscurity….

  1. Stories are more transferable than sermons.

I get it Pastor. You toiled all week to harvest the perfect phrasing to communicate the conviction you believe God was leading you to preach. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact it’s our responsibility as speakers of the gospel to ensure we’ve perfected our pitches properly. However, even the most perfectly formulated words can fall deaf on the disheartened. So what’s the solution?


Stories are the currency of our communities. They have the ability to break relational boundaries and simultaneously connect people. Stories open the door for connection. After hearing a story you’re bought in. Being willing to tell your story means something drastic has happened to your life that you can’t contain.

  A building that is built with lumber will eventually erode. A church that is built on stories is destined to explode.

This is a season of planting. Not concrete foundations, but seeds into people and their stories. Put the trowel down for a moment and listen to your people. Their pasts, their present and their future hopes. Provide ways for these stories to be shared and promoted. It is a deposit that will bring full return when the Church overcomes this season.

  1. Meetings need directors, not dictators.

If you’ve ever had the privilege of observing the orchestra pit at a production, it often gives more value than what’s happening on stage. There is an unspoken respect factor that takes place. No one moves until directed to do so. Once given the green light, certain sections play at their appropriate times creating a well-crafted organized dance between instruments.

In uncertain times your team may not speak out their fears but more commonly then not, there’s a hesitation on what move to make next. Questions like “What is my part to play”? And “When do I play?” often paint the ambiguity around the decision making tables. Lead your team with direction. Dictating will only expose and poke the wounds they already feel with what’s happening externally. They don’t need a boss, they need a balancer between their heart and their tasks. 

Be willing to set aside the business agenda to meet their pace, give them a direction and propel them forward with them knowing you’re behind them. A conductor never tunes out, they are locked in with their team until the song is finished and there are no instruments that don’t get the conductors attention.

  1. Programs will tire, people inspire.

Even as leaders of people, we’re still human. There are things that excite us and things that bore us depending on our personalities. Personally, I’ll never be intrigued by fantasy movies. The thought of living on an island in the sea of the sky with my only transport being a dragon, although thought provoking doesn’t fit my pallet. Not that it’s distasteful, but it’s so far from reality that I have difficulty grasping or relating to the idea. I’m basically paying to have a nap when friends bring me to these films.

Many times as leaders, we have programs, systems and there’s nothing wrong with those. In fact they’re healthy for any organization. However, if you’re looking for the program itself to inspire others, it will lead to great disappointment.

 It’s never the program, it’s always the people. I’m rarely inspired by the steps, I am always inspired by the people who took the steps to make the program happen. There’s something irrefutably attractive about people who come to the end of themselves with a cause, then take the initiative and make the sacrifice to make it happen. 

In seasons where people need community more than constant routine, providing ways for people to align under a cause will become a catalyst for inspiration. It will become the fuel that pushes people past their set of circumstances towards community and purpose. Don’t allow stats and charts to overshadow the untapped value in your people being a part of something bigger than themselves. Lean into programs and you may find that you don’t have the people to run them. Lean into people and you’ll discover how they are inspired to take the program further than its original design.

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