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The Number One Killer of Church Planters, Part 1

By Ben Connelly

One of the (innumerable) benefits of reading through the Bible every year is that God causes me to notice different things than in previous years. As most pastors acknowledge, there is no end to the depths to which we can know God, His ways, and His words. So whether specific verses or words, or themes or patterns, different things jump out when we devour God’s written word.

Reading through the Bible in 2019, the most prominent theme that has struck me is two-fold. On one hand, I’m seeing time and time again, how common it is for leaders to fall, at great impact to the lives of those they lead. Of course, you might think, look at what’s happening in churches and even businesses across our culture — no wonder that stands out right now. But it’s the other hand that has been the most sobering aspect of this theme. While there are dozens of leaders in the scriptures who fall, there is nearly universally only one reason they fall: pride. That’s true throughout the Bible, and that’s true in the world of pastoring and planting churches.

The Names and Faces of Pride

Granted, we don’t always label our actions or the actions of others with the overt word “pride.” We might call it “self-reliance” or “vanity.” Recent news articles label it “narcissism” and “egotism.” The Greeks called it “hubris.” 

Today, we might shroud our desire for more social media likes, sermon downloads, or compliments on a sermon as “doing more for God.” Some people pay professionals to help “build your platform.” But of course it’s to make God famous — or so we tell others. Pride might even be as subtle as the inability to stop working, to rest, and to turn off our phones. (Isn’t that self-reliance?) Or in phases that start with, “I deserve …” (Isn’t that self-justifying?) Or maybe it simply creeps into our minds as the recurring thought, “I’ll just do it myself.” 

But a rose by any other name would smell as sweet … or sour. All of these terms are different references, or different angles, of the concept of pride.

We don’t even see in the Scriptures overt use of the word “pride” in every instance. Instead, God’s Word guards against “haughtiness,” “boasting,” “arrogance,” being “puffed up” or “lofty”, and “conceit.” More sobering, the Bible warns us against “selfish ambition.” Even more scary might be the person who is “wise in his [or her] own eyes.” But the scariest definition of pride in the whole Bible is the lie that Adam and Eve believed in Genesis 3, “You will be like God.”



Ben Connelly

Ben Connelly is Director of Training for Saturate. After 19 years serving in local churches together, Ben and Jess now get to serve disciple-makers and planter couples across the world, as well as churches and organizations with a desire for sending. They live in Fort Worth, TX with their three kids, and host short-term foster placements, each on his or her way toward reunification or adoption.


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