Watch this video or read below about how to keep going when everything is a “work in progress.”

We bought a house about a year ago that had an unfinished basement. Finally, after drawings and plans, we’re working to build it out. We hired a contractor, got the permit from the city, and work is under way.

We’re putting a guest bedroom, a guest bathroom, a family room and a home office so I can work and write and serve you guys the best that I can.

But I’ll tell you, it is a mess right now.

There’s two-by-fours everywhere and insulation piled in the corner. Over the last few weeks, they’ve been jackhammering up the floor and dust is everywhere. When you walk in, you can kind of see what it’s going to be, but it’s unfinished.

As I was thinking about my unfinished basement, it made me think about you and your church. I just want to share a couple thoughts of how this unfinished basement can hopefully encourage you today.

1. It’s very frustrating to compare an unfinished project to a finished project.

When we set out to finish the basement we looked on Pinterest for ideas and pictures. People had these cool media rooms and awesome accents in their office, so that’s what was in my mind. And then I walk in my basement and it’s just a mess everywhere.

It’s really hard for me to compare what I envision to what is just a construction zone right now.

As a church leader or pastor, sometimes we go into big churches or attend conferences that happen at churches and we see ministries that have been around for a long time. Pastors that have been around a long time, and are writing books, and doing all this amazing stuff. And then we come back to our church and we go, “Man, there’s just so much that we don’t do as well as them.”

Well, it’s not finished.

Our basement right now is not finished, and I kind of have an idea and a plan of what it’s going to look like. But if I get stuck in that idea of just comparing what could be to what is, it’ll drive me nuts. My pastor, Andy Stanley, he preached a message on this one time. He said, “There’s no win in comparison.”

When we just compare, all we do is feel bad about what we have and in reality, I’m very thankful that we have this space to even finish out. I’m thankful that we have the resources to be able to even do it. But if I just get stuck in that comparison, going, “Man, well this guy’s media room,” or “This basement that we went in” or “This picture on Pinterest,” it’s stressful.

And so your church right now, I want to encourage you not to just compare yourself to the church down the street or the church on the internet or the church that does everything seemingly right. Maybe they’ve been doing it a lot longer. Hey, maybe they’ve got different people, but your church isn’t finished. God’s not done with your church.

What God wants to do in your church in the next month, in the next years, you may not even be able to fully see. It’s not finished yet and in a way, will never be finished. I’m really thankful that none of us are finished products, and God is going to sanctify and grow your church as well.

2. It’s pretty easy to get overwhelmed when things are unfinished.

I’m not really super handy so the process of doing it all myself is daunting. When I came down here all I could see what the stuff I wanted to do but didn’t know where to start. But the contractor came down and laid out a schedule for us. He said, “Here’s what we’re going to do first,” and actually sent me a little chart to show when work was going to be on a certain day, and we were going to do it in this order and in this order of things.

As you look at your church, there’s probably a lot of stuff you want to fix. There’s probably a lot of stuff that needs your attention, so I want to encourage you, if you’re in an unfinished season like I’m in this unfinished basement, you can’t work on everything at one time. The contractor didn’t send out the framers, the drywallers, the electricians and the plumbers all in the same day. There was a process. He said, “Here’s what we’re going to do first.”

If you’re working in leading in a church that’s unfinished, I want to just encourage you to just work on one thing. And I want to give you freedom to just work on the one thing. What’s the one thing that can make the biggest difference? What’s the one thing that can give you the greatest opportunity to grow in a healthy way? Just work on that.

When people in your staff and leaders and deacons and church members say, “Well, Pastor, aren’t we going to fix that?” Your answer can be, “Yes, we are, but not now.” And that’s a freeing answer to say, “We’re going to get to that one day, but right now, it’s about this.”

In our systems course training, we tell pastors to slow down and it’s okay if you get behind because there are certain things that are more important than other things in your church. Everything can’t be a priority. Everything can’t be, “Let’s fix it today.” Just start on one thing and make progress.

If your church is like my basement and it’s unfinished, don’t get stuck in the comparison game. It’s not finished yet. It’s okay. It’s supposed to be this way right now. And then just choose the next best thing to work on. Just choose the next step that you can take.

I don’t know if that may be different for your church than another church. Maybe it’s guests, maybe it’s services, maybe it’s finances, maybe it’s leadership, but choose the area that needs focus and just work on that until you get it done, and then you’ll be able to move on to the next thing, because it’s not finished yet. It’s unfinished. And you know what? Unfinished is an okay place to be.

So I hope you have a great weekend, hope you have a great week. If there’s anything we can do to ever serve you, just let us know. We’d be happy to do that.

So What’s Next?

Feel like your church should be growing, but it’s not?

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