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20 Characteristics of a Church Planter

Discussed: 20 Characteristics of a Church Planter

Acts 20:28 says that we must “Pay careful attention to ourselves” before we care for the flock of God. We must be prepared as God’s man before heading into battle.

1. Am I a Christian? (Integrity is the number one value of a church planter.)

This seems like an obvious characteristic. However, some men grow up in churches and are led to believe that they placed their faith in Jesus for salvation while they lack a personal relationship with Jesus. Jesus said that we must be born again or regenerated by the Spirit of God (John 3:16). It is possible that a man could build a church and not be a Christian, but it is not advised.

2. Am I passionately in love with Jesus, and is He the Lord of every area of my life?

The Gospel must be evidently at work in every area of a church planter’s life: personally, maritally, domestically, sexually, financially, physically, relationally, and ministerially. We are sinners who need forgiveness through repentance and confession. We have to practice this daily as examples of the Gospel.

3. Do I believe His Word, and does it affect my life deeply?

It’s not enough to just have good sermon material; it has to flow from your heart. The Word needs to speak to you, and you need to preach out of the abundance of His Word.

4. Am I Spirit-filled, Spirit-directed, Spirit-led, and Spirit-controlled? (Acts 1:8)

We are eager to be witnesses, but we have tendencies to lean on our own ideas and abilities apart from the Spirit of God. The church planter needs to be an empowered man. The Spirit needs to be working in and through him and be consuming him. Jesus accomplished work on this Earth through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit descended upon Jesus and rested or remained on Him (Matt. 3:16). Luke 4 said that Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit, was led by the Spirit, began His ministry in Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and preached with the Spirit of the Lord upon Him. He rejoiced in the Spirit (Luke 10:21) and promised the Spirit to those who asked the Father (Luke 11:13). The Holy Spirit longs to empower us to do our work as a missionary-church planter to the ends of the Earth.

5. Am I qualified as an Elder? (1 Timothy, Titus)

Timothy and Titus talk about the qualifications. Study them carefully and assess yourself. Both lists say that to be above reproach is the overarching, summarizing characteristic. You will find a similar (but not identical) list in First Timothy. Being above reproach is the first requirement in both lists and Titus repeats it. The other items on the list explain what above reproach means. There isn’t an exhaustive list of characteristics. They overlap, but the key is to be above reproach. The lists are some “for instances” of how to be above reproach: the husband of one wife with no one else in your hands, your head, your heart, your eyes, or on that screen-none. A church pastor must be totally focused and satisfied in that one woman God has brought to him. Marriage will be a struggle at times. But you cannot stray, even an inch. Practicing the Gospel is required for a good marriage. Children should be in submission, and pastors need to pastor their wife and kids first. If we peruse the two lists, as well as First Peter, we find 17 qualities of an elder who is above reproach.

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Scott is the executive pastor of Immanuel Nashville church in Nashville, Tennessee. He served as President of Acts 29 for six years and as Church Planting Director of C2C Network. He has served as a pastor since 1982, including 17 years as a Lead Pastor. Scott has been married to Jeannie for 37 years. They have two awesome sons, two beautiful daughters-in-law, and two amazing grandkids all living in Nashville.