Over the past few months, my wife, Kristen, and I have been discerning our call to plant a church. Nine personal experiences have stood out to us. I decided to write them down for my benefit, and then realized they might be helpful for other people too.
So, are you discerning this same thing? Are you called to plant a church? Here are nine thoughts to consider.
The call to plant a church comes from God. This call may come quickly and unexpectedly. This call may come slowly. But whenever the call comes, discerning whether this call is true is the key next-step for a faithful Christian.
Remember that the time it takes to discern your call to plant a church and the actual activity of church planting are like an accordion. As accordions are played, they are repeatedly stretched and compressed to make music. You should be ready for God to confirm your call to plant a church quickly, but you should also be patient if discerning his call takes more time than you anticipate.
Whatever God calls you to do, be sure you surrender your time to God.
God will answer prayers if he is calling you plant a church, so pray, pray a lot. If God begins answering specific prayers, meeting needs in unexpected ways, and opening doors for you to church-plant, then you should be assured that he may indeed be calling you to plant a church.
If God is calling you to plant a church, then you will find your call regularly confirmed in your heart and mind when you read the Bible. Whether you’re reading Paul’s epistles or the history of Israel, God will speak through his Word in ways that he has not done so before. The Bible will stoke your desire for church planting. This will happen again and again and again as you read his Word.
If you are married or have children, God is not just calling you to plant a church. He is calling your entire family. Church planting should be a blessing for your marriage and children. If it is an obstacle, then you may not be called to plant a church.
Part of discerning God’s call for you to plant a church is discerning if and how he is calling your family to plant a church. Take time to seriously consider how church planting will bless and challenge your family. You may need to wait before your family is ready.
God will likely use others to confirm whether he is calling you to plant a church. If you are called to plant a church, then actively ask others if they would affirm and support what you feel he is leading you to do.
Plan to have several conversations and prayers with your spouse, pastors, Christian mentors, close friends, and family. Listen intently to what people say and what reasons they give. Guard yourself from becoming defensive when you listen to those who don’t support you. Carefully consider all that is said from others, weighing their input with wisdom, prayer, and Scripture.
You cannot plant a church in a community where you are not passionate for the people there. Before you plant a church, you should already have, or begin praying for, a special burden on your heart from God to see the gospel transform the lives of people in your community.
God may call you to plant a church, but you probably shouldn’t do it alone. A church needs a team to lead and shepherd it. Whatever your leadership team may look like, remember that shared trust and unity among your team is incredibly valuable. Look for or recruit a team of believers who truly desire the best for one another.
While competency, strategic plans, and logistics are important, unified leaders whom God has called together to plant a church are certainly more important.
If God is calling you to plant a church, then he will give you the means to do so. Be content and thankful for whatever God supplies you with. At the right time, God will purposefully give you the exact amount of money and the right leaders to work with, and will gather your church at the location where he wants you to worship.
If you find yourself with hardly enough means to even get started, then remain prayerfully patient. It may not be the right time to plant a church. God may be calling you to wait. He may also be using this time of discerning your call to reveal a new way for you to serve him that you did not see before.
Eventually there comes a point (or sometimes several points) when you’ll need to take a risk for God. Perhaps this requires leaving a secure job, moving to unfamiliar place, or doing something that would make a sane person worry about the future.
Part of the reason you should take this risk is because you truly believe God is calling you to plant a church. If you’re not willing to step out with faith into the unknown for the sake of planting a church, then God is certainly not calling you to plant that church.
God calls the right people at the right time at the right place to plant churches. If you won’t respond to his call, then you may miss out on the blessing of being used by him for his kingdom work. All church planters ultimately respond God’s call with faith.