A little while ago there was a clip all over the news of the closing stages of a triathlon race featuring the Brownlee brothers. Jonny Brownlee was leading the race (which he needed to win to take the championship) and was on his final approach to the finish line when his legs started to give way. Initially he began to slow down, and then to weave all over the road, and it quickly became clear that couldn't run any more and would be unable to finish the race.
It was at this point that two more athletes came around the corner - who had previously been competing for second place but now had the opportunity to win the race. One of these athletes was the South African Henri Schoeman (who went on to win), and the other was Jonny's brother Alistair. Rather than competing with Schoeman for the win, Alistair Brownlee slowed down and helped his little brother to complete the race, before eventually pushing him over the line in second place, and only then crossed the line himself to finish third.
This is one of those stories that will no doubt appear in countless sermon illustrations over the years, but the reason we share it now is because of what Alistair Brownlee said when interviewed after the race (once it was clear that Jonny would be okay):
"I wish the flipping idiot had paced it right and crossed the finish line first. He could have jogged the last two kilometres and won the race."
This is the kind of banter that only a big brother could get away with, but it contains wisdom that is just as true for church planters as it is for triathletes - pacing is crucial.
It is possible for a church planter to make exactly the same mistake that Jonny Brownlee did - to go all guns blazing from the start and then hit a wall and have nothing left to give when the key moment of opportunity comes.
On the other hand, it is possible to make exactly the opposite mistake and to slow-burn the church so much that momentum never happens, enthusiasm starts to wane and the window of opportunity before you begins to close.
In this collection of resources, we will be looking at how to pace a church plant well, looking at the type of church we are going for, the stage of growth that we are in and our own personal capacity to push it forward.