Aspiring church planters often want to know if there’s some examination, text or assessment they can take to confirm that they are “have what it takes” to plant a church. My advise usually goes something like this:
- Go to the leaders of your church and see what they think about the idea. Take their advice.
- Study the elder qualification passages in the new testament and determine how you measure up.
- If you get a green light from your church and you meet the Biblical qualifications take a church planter assessment like THIS ONE or THIS ONE.
In addition to these three aids in assessment i think there are few general characteristics common to fruitful church planters. Here they are in no particular order.
- Evangelistic Fervor – All Christians should evangelize as the Scripture commands us to do so. With that said, we all know that there are some Christians who share their faith more commonly than others. Since the ministry of church planting is so tightly connected to winning lost people to Christ, a church planter who struggles in the area of personal evangelism will find church planting particularly difficult and frustrating. The Apostle Paul acknowledges this distinction by saying, “He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-16). The “apostle” that Paul mentions here is one who is a “vigorous and pioneering advocate.” If you struggle with boldness, clarity, or consistency in sharing the Gospel with non-Christians, this is an area where you will need to strive to grow in before you plant a church.
- Initiative – Church planting requires a great deal of initiative. If you’re a person who needs clear directives from a supervisor in order to make progress in your work church planting will prove to be challenging for you. A church planter is a perfect blend between a missionary and a pastor. To successfully plant a new church you will have to initiate many conversations, relationships, and partnerships.
- Tenacity – As I’ve already mentioned a few times, church planting is difficult. If you are one to give up easily or grow discouraged quickly, church planting will be nearly impossible. Starting a new church in a community that doesn’t want one is an up-hill battle. This may be a coincidence, but some of the most effective church planters I know are also some of the most stubborn people I know. They have the unique ability to press through problems rather than retreating from them. They don’t easily take “no” for an answer, and even when they do, they often find another way to get the job done. It’s a delicate balance to possess these qualities and still be winsome, humble and holy. If you are not comfortable with confrontation or challenging interpersonal situations, you won’t like church planting at all; it’s full of them.
- Vision – The church you are planting doesn’t yet exist; therefore, much of your early progress will rest on your ability to describe your imaginary church to those who give you their ear. This is particularly important for stages two through four of the church planting process. I’ll never forget the advice a friend once offered me. He said, “No one wants to be the last person to write a check to a dying organization.” If people don’t believe that your church will actually come to fruition, they are extremely unlikely to support it or participate in it. Visionary leadership is especially important in recruiting Christians to serve on your core team and for soliciting support from churches, individuals and other organizations. In order to stay motivated, these people require consistent reminders about the gospel work this new church is accomplishing. Without those reminders they are likely to lose interest and abandon the work.