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Leadership Interview with Darrin Patrick

Darrin Patrick is the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey in Saint Louis, Missouri which runs eight services across four campuses and continues to aggressively plant new campuses and churches in the Saint Louis region and beyond. Darrin also serves as Vice President of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network and is a regular contributor at the Resurgence. His new book, Church Planter: The Man, the Message, the Mission, is now available. I was grateful that Darrin was able to answer a few questions for the blog.

What kind of man should plant a church?

A man who is a Christian, who has forsaken being his own Savior and King and has trusted Christ with his life. He is a man who has a calling from God to a specific place with a elder-qualified life to back it up. He should be determined to prevail and dependent on God as he plants. He should be a man who loves his family more than his church and is secure and smart enough to share leadership with a team who leads the mission.

Why do most churches stay small?

Largely because most pastors don’t know how to build systems, structures, and processes that are not contingent upon them. Most pastors can care for people, but don’t build systems of care. Most pastors can develop leaders individually, but lack the skill to implement a process of leadership development. When a pastor can’t build systems and structures that support ministry, the only people who are cared for or empowered to lead are those who are “near” the pastor or those very close to the pastor. This limits the size of the church to the size of the pastor.

Has the gospel message been lost in the church?

I don’t think it has been lost as much as it has been truncated. The gospel is referred in most messages in most evangelical churches, but it is not central. The gospel – news about the person and work of Christ for the sinner and saint – is not the central theme for most sermons nor is it the primary motivation for obeying most sermons. The gospel has been relegated to good news for the sinner only. The gospel for the saint, in many pulpits, has tragically become moral advice rather than God’s good news.

How is contextualization not compromise?

Good contextualization is not bringing the gospel to people on their terms. That would be compromise. Biblical contextualization is bringing the gospel to people with their terms. That is why we take our language about the gospel and forms of church that declare the gospel and we adapt them to be understandable to the cultures in which we find ourselves.

What are the biggest challenges a church planter faces?

Himself. Period. Can you die to yourself so that God can do something through and in spite of you? Can you trust Jesus to build the church and not overwork so you won’t destroy your health, marriage and family? Can you surround yourself with friends who challenge you and not just fans who like your vision? Are you able to train and empower godly elders who will serve as your equals and will more than once save you and the church from certain implosion?


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Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., is the Dean of Talbot School of Theology at Biola Univeristy and Scholar in Residence & Teaching Pastor at Mariners Church. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches; trained pastors and church planters on six continents; earned two master’s degrees and two doctorates; and has written hundreds of articles and a dozen books. He is Regional Director for Lausanne North America, is the Editor-in-Chief of Outreach Magazine, and regularly writes for news outlets such as USA Today and CNN. Dr. Stetzer is the host of "The Stetzer ChurchLeaders Podcast," and his national radio show, "Ed Stetzer Live," airs Saturdays on Moody Radio and affiliates.