Ron Sylvia

Church Planting Year One–the Mistakes and the Miracles

About The Episode

“A growing church is always led by a growing leader. And whenever a leader stops growing, the church starts dying.” Meet Ron Sylvia, founding pastor of Church @ The Springs. In today’s episode, Ron shares the realities of year one in church planting–especially as a pioneer church planter when there were not too many resources and advice at the time. Ron’s encouragement to new church planters is to listen to the voice of God and stay grounded in the vision and calling. As a church planter, you’re on the front lines of what will be your legendary days…

Welcome to Episode 010 of The Unfair Advantage Podcast with Mike Hickerson and Andy Wood.

Insights From Ron


In the midst of what was a challenging year personally, God continued to make the calling clear for Ron and his wife.

  • He sent broken people to the church, even when Ron didn’t know why—things were not ideal for the start of this church. 
    • God sent bikers and addicts, and then he showed Ron and his wife how to shepherd these broken people. 
    • It wasn’t what Ron had in mind, but it was exactly what God had in mind. 
  • Ron had no financial support. He and his wife lived off of their retirement fund to start this church.
  • Many mistakes were made early on, but the “why” remained constant. In his words:
    • We knew what God had called us to; but we didn’t know how.
    • We did everything wrong…but the only thing we did right was listen to God’s voice. 
    • We had no money, lost our friends, were slandered in the community and called a cult. It was dark on the outside, but on the inside, the people coming to Christ were what kept us sane. 
    • The life transformation made it evident God was directing.


  • Ron’s church moved 15 times in the first 15 years. But God used this to bring new people! (The moves were out of necessity.)
  • Choosing leaders way too quickly
    • Be careful when trusting people who are wanting to be a big fish in a small pond.
    • Many early leaders did not understand/agree with the vision. Ron lost his leader team in six months because of this.
    • You have to learn how to say hello and goodbye. It’s like a parade.
  • Staying away from the lobby
    • You have to fight your way to the fringe.
    • Ron’s introverted personality latched on to the idea that he didn’t have time or capacity to make himself available to people in the lobby. He then realized this is where the life happens!


  • Humility is a magnet for the Holy Spirit.
    • Growth is not because of you or about you.
    • God opposes the proud. 
  • Confidence + humility


  • You’re on the front end of:
    • Seeing your faith become fact
    • The miracles that you cannot even begin to imagine
    • You’re at the beginning of Ephesians 3:20 where God wants to do exceedingly abundantly more than you could ever dream of.
  • Trust God.

Episode Links

Do ministry together! Three gatherings, nine planters, one cohesive journey. Checkout the Ascent Leader Church Planter Cohorts. Get more information today at:

Who is Ron Sylvia?

Ron & Teddi Sylvia are the founding pastors of Church @ The Springs. The Springs began with only 21 people in an office building and has grown to over 3,000 in attendance across three campuses.

Believing that every person matters to God, Pastor Ron is committed to leading our generation to know Him and growing a community of Christ-followers who will serve Him and the world.

Ron’s passion for church planting continues to be the heartbeat of The Springs. Ron has trained thousands of church planters in conferences and coaching networks, and continues to invest in the next generation of churches. The Springs has planted and invested in 42 churches around the world! Pastors Ron and Teddi are the proud parents of three children and eight grandchildren.


Thanks to our sponsor: Food For The Hungry.

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Quotes From Episode

“This isn’t a career choice. It’s a calling.”

“You have to hold people loosely and hold God tightly.”

“We’re going to chase the lost, but we’re not going to chase the already convinced.”

“If you’re not fighting your way to the fringe, you’re not going to experience the life.”

“A growing church is always led by a growing leader. And whenever a leader stops growing, the church starts dying.”

“Planters, you are writing the legends of your church right now. You’re in the midst of legendary days. Buckle up. Chase hard after Jesus, and it’s going to be a fun run.”

Our goal with the Ascent Leader and our church planting cohorts is to help church planters win early and finish strong. We want to resource you so that you can avoid common pitfalls and simple mistakes. Being involved in a community of leaders like our church planting cohorts is one of the best ways to wrestle through these questions. We’re here to help you, if we can be of assistance to you please feel free to reach out.

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