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February 13, 2018

Too Important to Fail

By Derek Hanna

During the 2008 financial crisis, some of the big lenders were designated “Too important to fail.” Too much rested on their survival and too many people would have been adversely affected, so the government stepped in.

In the early days of your church plant it can feel like every twist and turn relies on you: your strategy, your planning, your drive, your connections, your preaching, your systems. We might know in our head that it’s Jesus who said He would build His church, but in our heart (and reflected in how we spend our time during the week), it’s pretty clear the subtext to His comment is that He can’t do it without your help.

If you’re a planter, you’re probably self-aware enough to see the gap in your theology-praxis. But even knowing that gap doesn’t diminish the weight you feel for the lost and the pain you feel of the broken in the area you’re planting. What you’re doing feels too important to fail. The question is, have you rightly assessed in your life what’s too important to fail?

One of my wise friends has a saying when he talks to prospective planters, “If your plant fails, that’s painful. If your marriage fails, it’s a tragedy.

Do you believe that? If so, is that reflected in your strategic planting plan? Is it reflected in your five-year goals? Is it reflected in your “getting things done” process and how you allocate time during the week? When you sit down with those who oversee and look after the spiritual affairs of the church, do they ask you how you’re leading and loving your wife as Christ loved the Church? What’s the thing you ultimately believe is too important to fail: your plant or your marriage?

We don’t want to be simplistic about this. It’s not an either-or dilemma, that you either have a strong marriage or you have a strong church. And yet the Bible does put an order on these things. If you’re going to lead, then you need to be able to manage your household (1 Tim 3:4). I take it he’s not just talking pragmatics here (“Is everyone dressed? Has everyone eaten? Has everyone got their seatbelt on?”) but is saying, “The first thing God has called me to do is to lay down my life for my wife and raise my kids in the way they should go.”

This isn’t just a question of impact; it’s a question of faithfulness. Of course the impact of broken marriages to the wider church and society is significant and devastating, and there are elements of our marriage and family we can’t control. But the call to work hard on our marriages isn’t because it impacts others. It’s because it’s what God has called us to do as a first priority.

Being in ministry, and being a planter is a weighty responsibility. But being a husband is a weightier one. There are lots of reasons things can go wrong in marriage, but let’s not allow neglect to be one of them. It’s too important for that.


Derek Hanna

Derek grew up and became a Christian in Sydney, Australia. After studying Computer Science and working in London, he decided to do something he was completely unqualified for, but desperately passionate about, and started working for the Church Missionary Society helping churches talk to youth & children about what God was doing throughout the world and how they could be involved. While doing this, he studied theology at Sydney Missionary & Bible College and then headed up to Brisbane, Australia to work in pastoral ministry. Nine years ago he planted Village Church in Brisbane City, and this year started working with Geneva Push, an Australian church planting network, as the Director of Training. He's been married to Jacqueline for 18 years, they've got three boys who bring them joy and worry in equal measure, and they're all part of Christ Community Church in Brisbane, Australia.


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