Every so often I have a conversation with a dude that is considering church planting. And most of the conversations I have with guys considering or pursuing church planting include questions about what practical essentials a church planter should have. Over the past several years, through tons of conversations with church planters, people who train church planters, and my experience as a church planter, I have found that when these 9 essentials are present in the life of a church planter, the church planter is effective. The first four essentials were posted in Part 1. Here are the rest.
5. Growing in Self-Awareness – Assessments are important. But often their importance is misunderstood. Assessments aren’t important because they are some kind of test you pass or diploma you earn so you can go on and do what you want. Instead, they are a means by which you grow in your self-awareness. Self-awareness is the ability to discern your strengths and weaknesses, the way you handle situations and people, the way you handle those things under pressure, the way you respond to a crisis, and more. Self-awareness is a journey, not a destination. The greater self-awareness you have, the greater ability you will have to keep bombs from blowing up in your blind spots.
6. Growing in Idolatry-Awareness – Everyone is tempted to sin but everyone isn’t tempted to sin in the same ways. If you don’t know your idolatrous tendencies then you won’t know how to battle them and ask others help you battle them. If you don’t know how to do that, you’re going to ruin yourself, your family, and maybe everything else on the altar to that idol that is really in control. Your idol is what’s most important to you. And what’s most important to you defines your identity. And when your identity misplaced, bad things happen—really bad. Idolatry awareness is one level deeper than self-awareness. It isn’t afraid to ask questions like: If you were going to do this for the wrong reasons, what would those be? It finds out the reasons you’re so anxious, anger, and depressed. Growing in your idolatry awareness will help you battle every challenge that is making its way to your front door a few months in to your church plant. Rejecting your idols and finding your identity in Christ will enable you to live in peace, even when “failure” is staring you in the face.
7. Develop a Team With Complimentary Strengths – Once you have self-awareness and idol-awareness, you can better build out your team, whether these are paid or unpaid team members. Because you are aware of your idols and secure with your identity in Christ, you can freely face up to your weaknesses and shortcomings. You don’t have to hide or lie about them. Instead, you have the courage to identify weaknesses and shortcomings. Because you are self-aware, you know how to compensate for your weaknesses by building a team made up of people who have strengths where you don’t. Don’t hire someone with your strengths and wonder why things didn’t change. Become aware of your idols, strengths, and weaknesses, so you can put together a great team.
8. Lock Arms With Other Church Planters – Even though you may have a great team in place, it will be difficult for anyone on your team to know what your role is like. That’s why church planters are greatly helped by other church planters. You need brothers. You need camaraderie. You need to be able to hear church planters struggles and successes and be heard by them. You will see yourself in them and they in you. You will find encouragement even in struggle. You will find soberness even in success. Fellow church planters will have a perspective from which to encourage and challenge you in a way that no one else will. Don’t plant alone, lock arms with other church planters.
9. Identify an Experienced Church Planting Coach – Fellow church planters are important, but you also need father church planters. That is, you need a father in the faith that has church planting experience. You need someone who has actually done what you’re doing. And you want someone that has gone through all of the mess and difficulties of church planting life that you are facing without becoming bitter, resentful, and critical. You want someone who has walked through the fire of church planting and has come out refined, not hardened. Their perspective will give you the wisdom, confidence, encouragement, and inspiration you need to start and continue this new work.
The way these 9 essentials play out in the church planter’s life is messy. It’s always messy. And, of course, there’s more to church planting than these few things. But I haven’t come across an effective church planter that didn’t at least have these 9 essentials present in their life to one degree or another.
Every so often I have a conversation with a dude that is considering church planting. And most of the conversations I have with guys considering or pursuing church planting include questions about what practical essentials a church planter should have. Over the past several years, through tons of conversations with church planters, people who train church planters, and my experience as a church planter, I have found that when these 9 essentials are present in the life of a church planter, the church planter is effective.
1. Strong Sense of God’s Leading – Planting church can’t be about your daddy, proving that you’re “somebody,” or anything like this. This isn’t some high school clothing fad that you need to be a part of so you know you’re cool. The reason you’re starting this new church has to include you sensing God leading you to take these next steps—in a life of limited steps—for the advancement of his kingdom. When you get this undeniable sense of his leading on your heart, you have something you’ll need throughout your church planting experience—the ability to follow God’s leading into the unknown. Sensing God’s leading isn’t just about an initial call, although it includes that. It’s about being a man of faith who is able to take courageous steps into the unknown of the mission of God for the glory of God. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to continue this pattern throughout your ministry.
2. Have a Committed Family – When you have a strong sense of God’s leading to church planting, you also need a family that is committed. Although the call begins personally, it has to include a committed family. Any new job opportunity impacts a family, regardless of the profession. But there are hardly any opportunities that will impact your family more than church planting. Your family will become a strategic target for the Enemy. The enemy will pay special attention to you and your family. And so will the folks in your church, regardless of your context. Because of this, your family will experience unique challenges. They aren’t called to be your staff, although they’ll probably help like it a time or two (or ten!). Church planting is messy, which is why you really need a committed family to be an effective church planter.
3. Be Local Church Proven – Local churches plant churches by sending qualified men out to start new endeavors. By qualified men, I mean a lot of things. Primarily, I mean that you should have a track record of being a faithful, effective, and catalytic leader within the local church. If you haven’t started a growing small group, you probably shouldn’t try to start a church. If you haven’t been the kind of church member needed to grow a church, you probably shouldn’t try to start a church. You may not be a part of a local church that has the vision to plant churches, but people that are considering investing in you should be able to easily track down a proven local church track record. If they can’t, push church planting into the future and invest in a local church for a while.
4. Have a Compelling Plan – There are a lot of gifted guys and gals talking about vision, mission, strategy, and all the rest these days. Of course, they disagree with one another on the nuanced definitions of each of those things. It can be a bit overwhelming. However you slice it, they are saying the same thing: you need a compelling plan. A compelling plan is clear about what you want to see happen, how you hope to see it happen in your particular context, and why it needs to happen in your particular context. A compelling plan is unshakably aligned with the Great Commission. This isn’t a plug-and-play plan that you heard at the last conference you went too. It is something that you have wrestled (and are wrestling with) with personally for a specific context for a specific time. Although this plan isn’t perfect, it has to be compelling enough to move people—some people—to join and fund this new work.
**UPDATE** Further intercession has been requested for Iranian pastor, Yousef Nadarkhani who received a death sentence for apostasy (i.e. leaving Islam) in September 2010. Recall that he appealed to the Supreme Court who instructed the Revolutionary Tribunal of Gilan Province to review the case, specifically to verify whether Yousef was previously a practising Muslim. Yousef claims that, although raised in a Muslim home, he was never a Muslim by choice, conviction, belief or consistent practice, and that he should therefore not be regarded as an apostate.
It is reported that the first hearing has been scheduled for 25th September.
If the Tribunal concludes that Yousef was previously a Muslim and so is now an apostate, the Supreme Court’s ruling makes clear that he should then be executed, unless he recants his faith in Jesus as Saviour and Lord.
Recall that Yousef is a pastor within the Full Gospel ‘Church of Iran’ denomination in the northern city of Rasht. He has been detained in prison since October 2009. Yousef and his wife, Fatemeh, have two young sons, aged 9 and 7. Fatemeh was detained for four months in 2010.
Another ‘Church of Iran’ member, Behnam, has been detained in Karaj since 31st May. Five others, for whom we requested prayer in April, have been summoned to serve a one-year sentence in Shiraz, following unsuccessful appeals against the sentence passed in March. They are considering how to respond to the summons.
We are pleased to report that two believers, Vahid and Reza from Tabriz, were released on bail on 21st August, having been detained on 15th July. Other believers remain detained for their faith in Iran. There is no further news of Noorallah from Dezfool, Farshid in Tehran, or Leila in Tehran, all of whom remain detained.
Iranian Christians thank us for our prayers. They request our continued intercession that:
a. Yousef will be declared not to be an apostate, or that the death sentence will otherwise be lifted
b. Yousef will remain firm in his faith and know the presence and peace of Jesus each day
c. His wife, Fatemeh, and their two sons will know the comfort and hope of Jesus, and that the family will be reunited soon
d. Others detained for their faith, including Noorallah, Farshid, Leila and Behnam, will know the presence, peace and provision of Jesus, and be released soon
e. The five summoned to prison in Shiraz will know the Spirit’s wisdom and guidance at this time
f. Vahid and Reza will know the Lord’s presence, healing, and restoration following their release from prison
g. Christians throughout Iran will not be intimidated but will know the Lord’s enabling and guidance
h. All officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him
Clearly, Yousef is still in danger of martyrdom for his faith. Please continue in prayer for him and the others mentioned in the MEC note, as well as all Christians living in such intolerant places.
B21 wants to make you aware of the Go Network for church planting in Mississippi, focusing primarily on the central and southern parts of the state.
“Go Network is a group of churches committed to developing church planters that will reach people far from God with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are looking for planters who are in this for the long term and who want to plant externally focused churches in Mississippi. Planters who participate in Go’s development process will be asked to engage in very intense ministry experiences that will cause them to examine their lives and grow through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Led by church planters Eric Smith and Philip Thurman, Go Network is sure to serve Mississippi well with Gospel-centered, disciple-making churches.
For more info, visit http://www.goplantchurches.com/
B21’s Nathan Akin will lead a webinar for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina on the topic, “Raising Up Future Elders and Church Planters: How to be Intentional about 2 Timothy 2:2.” Nathan will take a look at how local churches should be intentional about multiplying leaders and will draw on the internship he went through at Open Door Baptist Church.
From the State Convention Registration Website: Nathan Akin will take a look at the Biblical call for pastors to raise up men who will be future leaders in their church and in churches that they will plant. We will specifically look at being intentional about training these men. Nathan will reflect upon the training that he went through as a good model to establish in other churches. Every church should be seeking to multiply its leaders and therefore seeking to multiply itself through planting, but this has to be intentional or it will never happen.
When: Thursday March 31 @ 11am – 12pm