Have you heard the statement that every person needs 8 hugs every day to stay psychologically healthy? People have researched this. The impact of a hug on a healthy person’s emotional state is immediate.
The pressure against our skin in multiple places sets off a series of physical reactions which result in a reduction of our heart rate and blood pressure. That same process releases dopamine in our brains which cause us to feel satisfaction.
Chemical reactions aside, hugs also speak to our souls and tell us we are accepted by another person, which is one of the most important feelings we can experience as individuals swimming in the sea of humanity.
But what about sweaty hugs?
You know what I mean. You get a hug from someone, which is great in so many ways, but there is also another part of the hug which you were not necessarily wanting – like to put your hand on a sweaty patch of shirt on someone’s back. Yes to the hug. No to the bodily fluids.
It took me a long time to figure out that my church planting model would deliver a lot of what I wanted and what I needed. I wanted to see discipleship at the center of the church God called me to plant. I wanted to focus on building deep and meaningful relationships instead of building crowds. I wanted to see a church established and grown out of conversion from death to life, not transition from one building to another. I needed those things from my church planting model. And, five years into planting Living Stone, I have received those things from my church planting model.
But I also got some things I was not expecting. My church planting model delivered discipleship, but I still had to learn how to market. My church is uniquely marked by our pattern of helping people build deep and meaningful relationships, but I have had to learn to utilize superficial social media tactics to help support them. We have seen our church grow by reaching those far from God, but we have also learned to embrace transfer growth with joy.
Your church planting model, if carefully crafted and doggedly pursued, will deliver all the things you want and need, but it will also come with some things you don’t.
Church planting models are sweaty hugs; they will give you what you want, but you need to be ready to embrace some things you may not expect along the way.