Are you considering Church Planting? Here are Fourteen things to consider BEFORE church planting
1. Are You Character Qualified?
The character qualifications for a pastor are clear in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Don’t create a future trainwreck if you know in your heart that you have legitimate character issues. And don’t move forward if your current local church has not affirmed your character.
2. Is Your Primary Goal to Reach People For Christ?
The reason to plant a church is to reach new people for Christ. Planting a church to “Do church better” than other churches is not a reason to plant a church. We don’t need more “gospel-centered” churches who believe that no other church in their community gets the gospel right. We also don’t need more hipster churches that simply cater to young Christians. What we do need are church planters whose primary focus is to reach people for Christ.
3. Do You Have a Strong Desire to Plant?
Church planting is a trendy thing to do. Young Christian men often feel like the highest ministry calling is to plant a church. There are many ways to be in gospel ministry other than planting a church. Do YOU have a strong desire to plant a church or is it someone else’s plan for you? Desire alone is not a call, but the strong desire to plant is a part of a call.
4. Do you Have A Place?
Planting is about taking the gospel to a particular location to reach a particular people. If you have a generic desire to plant a church but no clear focus on a people to reach, then you are not ready to plant a church.
5. Do you Have Opportunity in a Particular Place?
The desire to plant a church in a given place is not enough to move forward. What other indicators are clearly pointing the way to where you are considering planting? Do you already have a substantial group of people in a particular place? Is there NO gospel witness in that specific place? Is there an opportunity for funding for that particular location? If God has called you to a place, doors will be open, and the opportunity will be clear.
6. Are You a Cultural Insider?
My consistent experience is that the most successful planters plant in a place where they are cultural insiders. There are times when a man is called to go to another culture, but this tends to be the exception than the rule. If you have a desire, clear opportunity, and affirmation to go to a different culture, this may well God’s calling. Know, however, that as a cultural outsider, your church planting journey will be longer. You will likely spend several years learning the culture of the place where you are going (Even in a US city where you are not from). If you do not have clear desire, affirmation, and opportunity indicators, you are wise to plant in a familiar culture. My encouragement is to get out a map and put a mark on it where you (and your wife) grew up. Consider planting within a 6-hour drive of where you grew up.
7. Do you have a Track Record of Starting Things?
Being a decent teacher or a caring pastor does not qualify you to plant a church. Church planters are starters and builders. How do you know if this is you? Past performance is the best indicator of future performance. What have you started from scratch? Do you have a pattern of successfully starting new things? Church planters think like entrepreneurs.
8. What Has grown Under Your Leadership?
Church planting involves not only starting something but leading the plant to grow to the point where it is sustainable. Do you have a track record of building and growing things in your past? When you lead things, do they grow?
9. Do Other People Believe that You Should Plant a Church?
Affirmation is part of a call. Would those who know you affirm that you should plant a church? Does your current church see you as a church planter? Is there anyone telling you that you are not gifted to do this? Pay attention to the people who are around you. God will use them to speak truth into your life.
10. How Many People are Willing to Join With You?
Who is willing to follow you to plant this church? Successful Church Planters are able to gather people to join them. A Church Planter is the lead missiologist of a band of missionaries. Is anyone willing to go with you or join you on the mission?
11. Are People Lining Up to Fund the Church Plant?
Have you found that people and churches are willing to fund this vision? If a potential church planter is unable to raise sufficient funding, then he should not plant a church. Part of the affirmation and gifting of a church planter is the ability to raise funds.
12. Have you Gone Through a Church Planting Assessment?
A Church planting assessment is a beneficial and worthwhile investment. Having a team of seasoned veteran church planters evaluate your readiness to plant is a step that you would be wise to walk through. You can take a simple assessment here. You will find Acts 29’s application process here.
13. Is Your Family on Board With you?
Church Planting is not a one person commitment. If you are married, is your wife on board and committed? It takes a lot of energy and perseverance to plant a church. Setting out to plant with a wife whose commitment is questionable will make the road much more difficult.
14. Have you Served for Several Years on a Church Staff?
Head coaches are first assistant coaches. Succesful twenty-five-year-old church planters who have not first served for several years on a church team are a rarity. You may be able to point to an exception, but it is just that – an exception. Before you plant a church, put in several years on a church staff team maturing, learning to work under authority, learning about different kinds of ministry.
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