Should I plant a church? How to know if you are ready for church planting.
Jesus Christ’s final command to His disciples was to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Planting churches is a practical way to fulfill this mandate by reaching new communities and cultures with the message of the Gospel. However, church planting can be challenging, and while every Jesus follower is called to go and make disciples, not all Jesus followers are called to the specific mission field of church planting.
Are you called to plant a church?
Determining whether you are called to plant a church requires introspection, discernment, and seeking guidance from God and wise counsel. Church planting is a significant undertaking that demands dedication, leadership skills, and a deep sense of purpose. There are many things to consider when analyzing if you are called to plant:
Confirmation from God
Have you heard from God on the topic of church planting? If not, spend some dedicated time in prayer, asking Christ for guidance and confirmation on the topic. Knowing that church planting is God’s vision for you is the number one key to your success or failure as a planter. Church planting is difficult, and it is critical to know that God is behind your plant and your vision.
Seek Confirmation from your Church, Mentors, and Denomination
Seek input and feedback from your spouse and family, trusted mentors, spiritual leaders, and fellow believers. Their affirmation, observations, and insights can help validate your calling and provide valuable perspective. You will need a team to be successful. Talk with those already on your team and thoughtfully and prayerfully analyze their feedback.
Passion and Vision
Do you have a burning passion for evangelism, discipleship, and reaching the lost? Do you possess a clear vision for starting a new church? Do you want to see lives transformed through the Gospel? The desire to plant needs to be backed up with real purpose and vision. How is God leading you? Where is God leading you?
Spiritual Gifts and Skills
Assess your spiritual gifts and skills relevant to church planting, such as leadership, teaching, shepherding, evangelism, character, administration, and more. Do this with the help of your sending community and mentors. These gifts can equip you for the challenges and responsibilities of starting and leading a church. As this process identifies areas of leadership growth, ask God to help grow you in your weaker areas.
Training and Preparation
Commit to investing in church planting training, education, or practical experience. Equip yourself with knowledge and skills in areas such as theology, church administration, discipleship, and community outreach. There are lots of degree programs and training programs for church planters. The PNW Movement, in cooperation with your sending church, can offer a very in-depth residency and training program to help you gain the experience necessary to prepare you for planting.
Circumstances and Opportunities
Assess the opportunities around you. Is there a clear need? Are there specific communities or regions that lack strong Gospel-centered churches? Do you have access to resources, networks, and support systems that can aid you in the church planting process? Most denominations have church planting support and funding options available to church planters. There are also independent church planting movements like the PNW Movement that can come alongside you and provide support in a variety of ways.
Remember, discerning a calling is a process and an ongoing journey. It may involve prayer, seeking God’s guidance, and patiently waiting for confirmation. It is crucial to understand that while church planting can be a rewarding endeavor, it also comes with its own set of challenges, sacrifices, and responsibilities.
The PNW Movement can help on this journey. We have an in-depth process and program that can help you navigate the church planting experience. Our residency approach will give you an opportunity to serve in a church and alongside an experienced pastor and church planter who will help train and prepare you for the tasks of leading a church. This experience gives you hands-on opportunities to grow your leadership skills. Our network will also work with you and the vision God has given you to help with planning, funding, and discernment. The PNW Movement is a collaborative movement that is compatible with a full range of denominations and approaches to planting. Our goal is not to further a particular denomination or model but instead to create thriving churches that blend seamlessly into their context and further the Great Commission.
Plant with the
Are you interested in planting a church? Do you need help, resources, or guidance? The PNW Movement is here to help.
Be aware of the challenges church planters face when church planting.
Planting a church can be highly challenging, but it is also gratifying. When you step into the role of the church planter, you need to be aware that it will impact your life and your family in many ways. The decision to proceed with planting should not be taken lightly, nor should the responsibility of leading a congregation. In community with others, planting will require a great deal of faith, hard work, and commitment from a team of people willing to help, support, and guide the community to fruition. Remember that nobody plants a church from scratch. With God as part of your team, you are already headed in the right direction. As you embark on your church-planting journey, there are a few other things that you should be aware of:
Funding for Planting Churches
Church planting typically requires financial resources for securing a meeting space, equipment, staff salaries, and initial ministry expenses. Raising funds and managing finances can be a significant challenge, especially in the early stages. There are resources through many denominations or church planting organizations like the PNW Movement, but you need to plan on raising money to help fund your church plant. You also need to be comfortable managing and stewarding the organizational finances.
Support and Resources
Unlike established churches, church planters may have the privilege of starting with a clear vision out of the strength of being sent by a robust existing community. If you’re working within a denomination, there may be some resources available to you, but there are also organizations like the PNW Movement that help provide a great deal of training, support, and mentorship from experienced church planters who can guide you in the process.
Building a Core Team
Forming a committed and diversely gifted core team of individuals who share the vision and mission of the church plant can be a significant challenge. Gathering a passionate and committed team to the vision requires time, effort, and effective communication. It also requires prayer and discernment to select the right people to help lead this emerging church community. In the early stages, inviting anyone onto the team can be easy, but it is essential to be discerning as leaders are chosen.
Engaging and connecting with the local community is crucial for a church plant’s success. Become a participant observer in a particular community to understand what the joys and laments are among the people you’re planting with. Building relationships and gaining trust within a new city or community can take time and effort. Move to the city. Meet the people. Love and serve them. If you treat those in your community like Jesus, you will eventually make inroads into your community. Don’t rush this process, it is imperative to understand your community and its needs if your congregation is going to serve it appropriately.
Church planting often faces spiritual opposition and resistance. The enemy may attempt to discourage, distract, or hinder the progress of a new church plant. Perseverance and spiritual warfare are necessary to overcome such challenges. You and your core team must be prepared for this opposition and ready to combat it with prayer and faith.
Growth and Sustainability
Growing a healthy and sustainable church community requires intentional discipleship, effective leadership development, and fostering a culture of growth. Maintaining momentum, retaining members, and managing growth can be challenging. Be cautious about being so growth-focused that you neglect your church’s and community’s spiritual health.
Adaptability and Flexibility
Church planters must be adaptable and flexible, as they often face unexpected circumstances, changing demographics, and evolving community needs. Being open to adjustments and willing to learn from failures is crucial.
Balancing Personal and Ministry Life
Church planting demands significant time, energy, emotional, and sometimes financial investment. Finding a balance between personal life, family, and ministry responsibilities can be challenging and requires intentional prioritization for any pastor. You must have a clear plan and strategy to balance these aspects and be prepared for the challenges ahead.
Is another church needed?
Determining whether another church is needed in a particular area requires careful assessment and consideration of various factors. Here are a few points to ponder when evaluating the need for another church:
Evaluate the demographics of the city and region you intend to plant in. Consider population size, age groups, cultural diversity, socioeconomic status, and spiritual climate. A growing population or an underserved demographic group may indicate a potential need for another church.
Assess the existing churches in the area. Are they effectively reaching and meeting the spiritual needs of the community? Are there specific gaps or unmet needs regarding worship styles, languages, or ministry approaches that a new church could address? For example, if you find the community is primarily served by older churches, there may be an opportunity for a new church that strives to reach younger families.
Accessibility and Proximity
Consider the accessibility and proximity of churches to different neighborhoods or communities. If significant geographical barriers or transportation challenges hinder individuals from accessing existing churches, it might indicate a potential need for another church in a more accessible location.
It is imperative that a church identify the needs of the community it intends to serve. For example, if there is a lack of churches with strong youth programs, community outreach, or a particular style of worship, a new church specializing in these areas could fill a need. The church’s ministry focus or areas of expertise must align with the community it services.
Collaboration and Unity
Engage in conversations and seek collaboration with existing churches and local Christian leaders. Explore partnering with or supporting existing churches to address the community’s needs rather than creating unnecessary competition. There is often an opportunity to come alongside other churches and help with a church revitalization instead of a fresh plant.
Prayer and Discernment
Seek God’s guidance through prayer and discernment. Involve planting coaches, mentors, pastors, and the local Christian community in discernment. Prayerfully consider whether starting another church aligns with God’s leading and the unique calling placed on your life.
I have a vision for planting, and I think I am ready. What next?
Having a vision and a mission behind your plant is critical. Many older congregations and other church models are already in motion in most communities. Both are good and necessary, but new church plants can offer a fresh take. As a pastor and planter, it is your job to set the vision and mission and to guide the church from idea to action. To do this, it will take people. Many people are behind your vision and mission and willing to give their time and effort to support it. As you embark on your church plant, you must work on getting your fledgling congregation behind your church plant. Starting to test your vision and mission is a great way to start building some momentum. Connecting with your community through the following steps can help you see if your mission and vision have legs to stand on.
Clarify and Articulate your Vision
Clearly define your church planting vision and articulate it in a compelling way. Be ready to clearly communicate your church plant’s purpose, values, and goals to anyone you encounter. Make sure your vision is relevant, inspiring, and aligns with the needs and aspirations of potential members as well as your city and community.
Develop genuine relationships with people in your city and community. Invest time in getting to know individuals, understanding their needs, and showing empathy. Building trust and connection is crucial for people to buy into your vision.
Share Personal Stories
Share personal stories demonstrating your vision’s impact on individuals’ lives. Testimonies of transformed lives, personal experiences, and anecdotes can be powerful tools to inspire and connect with others. At first, these may not exist, but as you begin to form your core group and get moving, stories of change should emerge.
Engage in Community Service
Engaging in community service projects and initiatives demonstrates your commitment to making a positive impact. By actively serving and meeting the community’s needs, you can build credibility and gain people’s trust. When others in your community witness your mission and vision in action, it is much easier for them to understand and join.
Provide Relevant and Engaging Content
Create and share content that is relevant to your target audience. This can include blog posts, podcasts, videos, or social media content that address the needs, challenges, and interests of those you would like to impact. By providing valuable content, you establish yourself as a helpful resource and create opportunities for engagement and interest in your mission and vision.
Host Events, Gatherings, and Groups
Organize events and gatherings that allow people to experience your vision firsthand. This could include community outreach events, worship services, small group meetings, or social activities. Create an inviting and welcoming atmosphere where people can connect, ask questions, and experience the community you are building.
Seek Partnerships and Collaborations
Establish partnerships and collaborations with other organizations, churches, or community groups. Working together allows you to leverage shared resources, expand your reach, and demonstrate unity and cooperation. You can also fine-tune your vision and mission to better align with your community’s needs and its partners’ needs.
Be Patient and Persistent
Building a community and getting people to buy into your vision takes time and effort. Be patient and persistent in your efforts. Stay committed to your vision, adapt as needed, and consistently communicate the benefits and value of being part of your church plant.
Remember, it’s important to approach people with respect, understanding, and a genuine desire to serve. Building relationships and trust should be at the core of your efforts, and the authenticity of your vision will naturally attract those who resonate with it.
So... should I plant a church?
Answering the question, should I plant a church is difficult because it is incredibly nuanced. It is indisputable that God has a plan for you, but whether church planting is the right plan is discernible through prayer, community, and mission-minded believers. Still, hopefully, this resource has provided some practical guidance on some of the things you need to consider as you embark on the life-changing journey of church planting. We encourage you not to rush into church planting but to take your time. Spend time in prayer and in conversation with other mentors, pastors, and leaders, and you will find the right path forward. If you do this and carefully work through this guide, you will be able to plant with confidence, knowing you have a mission and a clear path forward.
If you would like to talk with one of our mentors about church planting, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We are passionate about building the next generation of the church and would be thrilled to talk with you about your vision and calling.