While planting Everglades Baptist Church, Mary and I learned the difficulties of church planting essentially as “lone rangers.” Yes, we had some join us early on to participate and they were helpful. But by a lone ranger church planter I mean, planting a church as the only full or part-time leader convinced of a calling to plant a church, and committed to the vision.
I do not see how Everglades could have been established without the participation of the first ten people who joined us the first year. They all wanted to help start a church. They believed in what we were doing. And they left the comforts of a well established church, which had much to offer them, to try and reach people their church could not. However, they were truly unaware of what they had gotten themselves into. And after 12 months, only two people stayed with us.
The truth is, all but one of those who formed our original core group had any experience in church leadership. The one, Betty Burton, was an older woman and a graduate of Southwestern Seminary (in the late 50s, I think). As a 27-year-old rookie church planter, I am confident I frustrated her many times. We simply were not a good match.
During those four years planting and pastoring, I longed to plan, pray, and pastor with a team of leaders. I remember many lonely days facing some serious decisions. I searched often, too often at times, for someone to team together with who shared my values, and vision for the church. Those were difficult days. I learned very quickly the lone ranger approach was the wrong approach.