Because Revolution Church, I talk to a lot of guys who want to plant a church. It is now the sexy thing to do. It used to be that you wanted to be a student pastor and work your way up to be the lead pastor of a church, but now more and more guys want to strike out on their own, make their own mistakes, do their thing. This is a good thing.
So, if that’s you and you are thinking about planting a church, here is what I’d tell you if we met for coffee:
1. Be on staff somewhere first.
I can’t believe the number of guys who have never been on staff at a church who are planting and getting funding from organizations for it, guys from parachurch or campus ministries with great hearts and leadership abilities, but church leadership is different. If you haven’t been on staff at a church, paid staff, you need to do that first. Watch, listen and learn.
Spend time with the lead pastor, the executive pastor, ask to sit in on elder meetings to learn how to interact with elders, learn about the budget process, etc. Learn from the mistakes they’re making, the mistakes they’ve made in the past, learn what you don’t want to do and what you do want to do. While some on-staff experiences were hard, they taught me a lot about leadership and preaching.
2. What does the church you worked at last say about you?
Are they supporting you? When a guy asks Revolution for money in planting a church, I want to know what the last church he worked at says about him and if they are supporting him financially. Some churches don’t support church planting, and I’ll want the pastor to tell me that (not the guy asking for money). But what do they say about him? Do they affirm his gifts? Do they believe he is prepared? What do they say about his marriage and kids if he is married or has kids?
3. Does your wife feel called to it?
I talk about this more in depth here, but if you are married and your wife does not feel called to plant a church, you shouldn’t. You’ll say that God has clearly called you and it would be a sin not to. As the leader of your home, it would be a sin to make your wife plant a church if she doesn’t feel called to it. You married her.
When we look for elders, we look at the wife and kids because that gives us an idea of the kind of disciples a man makes, and then we ask, “Do we want more of those running around our church?” Your wife also knows your gifts, possibly better than you, and if she isn’t on board, that’s a sign.
4. Know what kind of church you’ll plant.
As a leader, you should have a vision and it needs to be bigger than planting a service. Too many guys want to just preach. If that’s you, don’t plant a church, become a professional speaker where you don’t have to shepherd people. What is your plan for worship, discipleship, community, mission, evangelism, follow-up with guests, givers, new believers?
If you can’t rattle off what you will do, you aren’t ready. Don’t just point to another church. They are in a different place, different part of the city, different state, led by a different guy. If you want to just do what they are doing, go to that church and help out.
5. Be committed to pastoring, not being a rock star …
… because church plants have grown quickly, although this is not the norm. We hear stories at conferences of the guys who parachute in and 10 years later have thousands of people, campuses all over the state, and think, “I can do that.” Church planters are called to be pastors, not rock stars.
Don’t plant with the goal of getting so big that you don’t have to pastor or care for anyone. That’s being in it for you and your glory, not God’s or being for the people God will send to you.