Confessions of a Struggling Church Starter

Charles Kiser —  June 2, 2008 — 8 Comments

Have I mentioned that this whole church starting thing is hard work?

The part I’m finding most difficult right now is making initial connections with people—the cold-turkey, how’s it going, who are you, what do you do kinds of conversations.

Sure, I’m a pretty gregarious person, but it takes a little while before that crazy guy can come out of his shell. I was that way in junior high; high school; college; grad school; and what do you know, I’m still that way.

I’m not sure exactly why it’s so hard for me. It’s probably partly because I’m such a people pleaser. I want people to like me. I want to say the right things. I want to be cool. I don’t want people to think I’m a religious salesman.

Perhaps it’s hard because I don’t just want to have conversations with people; I want to have spiritual conversations with people. Spirituality/religion is a particularly private thing in our culture. It’s one of two things you don’t talk about (politics the other) unless you’re prepared to get in a fight.

I’m finding, however, that these kinds of conversations are much less daunting when there’s a more natural reason to have them, outside of the obvious reason of connecting with people along the wavelength of spirituality.

Conversations take place more naturally when I’m on a flag football team with people, or at a civic organization meeting, or at dinner, rather than after someone opens the door when I’ve randomly knocked on it.

Yet it’s still hard in more natural contexts. I’ve found myself sitting on the couch before going to engagements where I would meet new people trying to think of excuses for not going. [I’m laughing at myself as I type this.]

That’s right, I’m a church starter. I’m supposed to have a knack for this kind of thing. Yeah…I feel under-qualified for the job sometimes.

At the end of the day, it’s worth all the inner turmoil. It’s worth the challenge. I get the privilege, after all, to engage people concerning the most important kinds of things in the whole world.

Perhaps you’re like me…why do we have such a hard time with this?

Charles Kiser


I’m a pastor, missionary, and contextual theologian in Dallas, Texas. I’m committed to equipping and coaching Christians to start fresh expressions of Christian community in Dallas County — communities of hospitality, inclusion, justice, and healing.

8 responses to Confessions of a Struggling Church Starter


    I feel the same way!!


    Yeah, welcome to the club. I have those moments of talking myself out of going places to meet people too. But don’t think I’m saying it is okay 🙂 Keep going!


    Hey man, I completely understand. I struggle with the same thing, and I L-O-V-E meeting new people. But, it is daunting to think that this meeting has a purpose. I think God knows this, because he seems to THROW people in my way. I am praying for ya, bro. God bless you as you seek to be personable for the Kingdom.


    I think it comes down to admitting to ourselves that we love what we’re doing enough to face rejection for it… or, worse yet, mockery of the very thing that we love.

    It is a test of our love… a test that I often fail. I am in the fundraising business, and I come up with every excuse in the world to avoid picking up the phone and calling donors to talk to them about the organization that I love.

    I think that we both need to realize the truth in the old sales adage: “You get 0% of the things that you don’t ask for.”

    Maybe you can just get a button that says, “I am a church starter. No, seriously, I am starting a church.” Or maybe a t-shirt that just says, “Church Planter.” And see who comes up to you. 😉


    Hi Charles,

    Carisse Berryhill is a friend we have in common, and she suggested that I might be of some help. (I knew Carisse when we both lived in Lubbock.)

    I too am a church planter. I live in Merced, California, a city of 80k with a brand new University of California. My wife and I parachuted into this community with no team and not much money. We’ve been here nearly 3 years, and our church, LifeSpring, has been meeting for 1.5 years.

    We’ve used networking and joining up as our chief means of marketing. I am set to become chairman of the Chamber of Commerce in July for a 1-year term.

    If you’d like a more complete description of what’s happened, drop me a note, and I’ll be glad to share. I can also tell you about some books and resources that have been instrumental in influencing our direction.

    I can identify with your agony of making connections. That was how I felt initially, however, I now feel totally at home with my particular method of “connecting.”

    Blessings to you in what you are doing.

    Bruce Logue



    I too was a “people pleaser” however, with lots of prayer, I now am becoming a “God pleaser”! I don’t fully understand where you’re at, but in a way I do. It’s amazing the opportunities that God places in your path, you just have to swallow hard and jump in with both feet. God’s always there to pull you up!

    You have a wonderful quality and that’s your love for our Father in Heaven! What else do you need?!

    One thing I tell myself and my 4 children is, “You put into what you get out of it”! You give it your 150% you’ll get out 150%! But always remember this can only happen when God is in the CENTER of it all. Just some advise, it has always help my walk, hand in hand with the Lord!

    I’ll be praying for God’s wisdom, strength, courage and boldness for you! I give thanks to God for your open heart to share your stuggles with us! I know it’s not easy. I give thanks to God for the example your heart and spirit is showing through His transparency! Keep you eyes fixed on Him and everything will come full circle. Blessings and Love, my Brother in Christ!!!


    Maybe it has to do with how we perceive ourselves. You call yourself a “church-starter.” Maybe that’s the obstacle. What a load to carry if you see yourself as one who has to start a church. Jesus said “I will build MY church.” Trans: HE will build HIS church. No one else can do it. No one else should do it. It’s not ours to build. If you start a church, it will be YOUR church, Charles! Not Jesus’s. So, why not today just be Jesus to everyone you meet? Don’t try to DO, just BE. Be what you naturally are, and since I know you, that is pretty appealing. We all are a lot more fun if we are who we naturally are. Maybe that’s why you feel better when you are engaged in something you really enjoy, i.e. flag football, video game, etc.

    I really wonder if we who call ourselvess followers of Jesus have enough of him in us to make an impact in others? He said people will know us by our love…that’s what I want to be today. Nothing more, nothing less. Blessings to you…

    John Mitchell July 13, 2009 at 1:59 pm


    Let me second Steve Sr.’s comments. I have been struggling with what I have called “transactional evangelism”. If I do this… or say this, or serve in this way, then they owe me a positive response. they become a “lead” or a “prospect”. Obviously this is not how Jesus interacted with people. When I make contacts and build relationships because it makes my life better, and it makes their life better, I am doing what Jesus did. He came to live in relationship with us – that is all he has asks me to do. Go and live in relationship with the world around you.

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