Home Outreach Leaders Articles for Outreach & Missions 20 Characteristics of a Church Planter

20 Characteristics of a Church Planter

11. Am I the kind of leader many people will follow? Have I served as a church leader successfully?

Occasionally, a man will aspire to be a church planter who has no experience as a church leader or an elder in another local church. Paul warns the church not to be hasty in the laying on of hands (1 Timothy 5:22) or appointing a pastor who is a recent convert who is prone to pride (1 Timothy 3:6). A church planter will be more effective with a few years of experience involved with the local church in a leadership capacity. The best church planters are those men who have led in multiple venues and people followed over a sustained period of time.

Even a cursory reading of the Bible reveals that when God wants to get something done, He starts by selecting a man to lead that change. Examples include sparing humanity (Noah), founding a nation (Abraham), liberating a nation (Moses), establishing a throne (David), building a Temple (Solomon), preparing hearts (John the Baptizer), and redeeming all of creation (Jesus).

Church planting is no different. Simply, before God can build a church plant, He must build a church planter who can lead others to follow the mission of Jesus.

12. Can I preach effectively?

You don’t have to hit it out of the ballpark every time. But you do have to hit singles pretty regularly. The pulpit is the rudder that steers the church. We cannot make our preaching an idol. The key thing to remember in preaching, according to Mark Driscoll, is to avoid freezing up at the pressure. Relax, connect with the Spirit and with your audience, and the effectiveness will take care of itself.

13. Can I guard the doctrinal door with Biblical clarity and tenacious confidence?

When you start a church, you’ll have new people with new ideas-some for which they got kicked out of their old church! You have to be able to guard the doctrinal door, refute doctrinal error-not arrogantly, but being sure of what the Word of God says and being able to articulate that in a winsome way with authority.

14. Can I architect a new work with entrepreneurial skill?

What have you started successfully? Some men can’t see the vision of what is to come, and some-even if they see the vision-can’t find the steps toward accomplishing their vision. If you can’t be the architect, then you are in trouble. As an example, some very pastoral people are NOT the best people to start a church, or at least not as the main team leader. Be clear about who you are. If you’re a shepherd, counselor, caregiver, and you could be a success doing those things in an established church or as part of a team, then that is where you should be. Someone who is called to plant a church is frustrated if they don’t do it. Number two leaders rarely make good number one leaders.

15. Am I called to plant a church at this time and in this place?

Acts 17:26 says that God appoints the time and the place of our ministry. Titus was the Apostolic leader over the churches in Crete. Before Paul appointed him to do that, he went through a progression of calling:

• 2 Cor. 7:6, Titus was a friend who encouraged Paul
• 2 Cor 7:13, Titus was overwhelmed by the ministry of the Macedonians
• 2 Cor. 8:6, Titus was a faithful worker carrying out the wishes of Paul
• 2 Cor. 8:16-17, Titus developed a heart for the ministry and initiated ministry on his own
• 2 Cor. 8:23 and 12:17, Titus was a proven minister
Titus 1:4-5, Titus was the senior overseer to appoint elders throughout the island of Crete. His proven faithfulness and calling allowed him to pioneer works in a hostile environment.

In 1 Peter 5:2, Peter exhorts the elders to “Shepherd the flock of God…not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you.” A calling is necessary in a church plant to face the tough times because a hireling leaves when the wolf arrives. But a called shepherd stays with his flock through adversity (John 10:12ff.).

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Used with permission from Scott Thomas, the director and Chairman of Acts 29 Network, a non-profit church planting organization of missional reformed churches.