How Do I Get Started in Planting?
By Gabe Martin
To get started in church planting, you must confirm that God has called you to this work.
For one reason or another, you have decided to read an article titled, How do I get started in church planting? Perhaps you clicked on this article because it caught your eye as you were scrolling a page or maybe you landed here because you searched those exact words.
Whatever brought you here, the truth is that you may have already gotten started in church planting. Let me explain with an illustration.
I often have conversations with people who distrust the idea of the canon of Scripture. They believe the early church just determined what they liked and wanted included in the Bible, rather than realizing the church simply recognized what God had inspired as holy Scripture.
In the same way, human beings do not determine or call true church planters, God does. Our role is to recognize these people God has called — which might include you — and then equip and send them to do what they were called to do. It’s possible God has been preparing you for longer than you realize to be part of His mission of planting churches. To “get started” then, you must recognize, or confirm, that God has called you to this work.
Let’s talk about five steps in "getting started."
- Confirm your calling in your Bible.
Church planting is about carrying out God's mission, not my own. That’s why the first step in church planting is opening your Bible to determine whether you see this as the mission of God on the pages of Scripture.
When you read of Paul and Barnabas planting churches, do you get excited that calling church planters is still God’s plan today? Can you see God’s mission to the lost on the pages of the Old Testament as well? Ask yourself honestly if the Bible has you convinced that this is God’s plan for making His name known in the world.
- Confirm your calling in your prayer.
The most powerful confirmation of calling will come from the One Who calls: God.
When my wife and I were praying through our calling, I asked God to literally put a sign in the sky to make it clear. While He never flew a banner, He answered our prayers to the extent we knew not planting would be disobedience. Begin praying immediately that God would confirm your calling through a passionate conviction there is no “option B” for your life.
- Confirm your calling in your work.
You don’t need permission or funding to begin doing the primary ministries of a church planter — evangelism and discipleship.
- Evangelism. Every Christian is called to be a witness of Jesus and share the good news of salvation with those around them. You have people in your life today who need to hear this message. Are you currently so convinced of the power and necessity of the gospel that you make and take opportunities to share it regularly?
- Discipleship. As with evangelism, every Christian is called to be involved in discipling and building up other Christians. Are you currently involved in the discipleship and spiritual growth of other Christian brothers or sisters?
- Confirm your calling in your church.
God’s plan is for churches to plant churches. It makes sense then that God uses churches to confirm the calling of church planters.
If you are sensing this may be God’s call on your life, tell other brothers and sisters within your church (this includes your spouse and pastor) and allow them to confirm this alongside you. I often say, “Don’t tell me you’re called to ministry; show me.” Can your church see this calling in your current life and ministry? Since these people are the ones who will be involved with equipping and sending you to plant, it is important for the Holy Spirit to confirm your calling within their hearts as well.
- Get equipped to step into your calling.
After you have confirmed your calling, the last step in “getting started” is getting equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to plant a church. You will need people who can mentor you through identifying the community to which you are called, as well as developing the vision and mission for your church.
It will be extremely helpful to be mentored and trained in different means and methods of discipleship, church structure and community outreach. You also should be connected to people who will help you think through things like logistics, finances and team-building. This type of equipping is often effectively done through a church-planter residency program. If your church is not currently structured to provide this, talk to your pastor about partnering with a church that is.
How you get started in church planting plays an important role in how you persevere in church planting. The Bible tells us, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Ps. 127:1) and this truth is vitally applicable when planting churches.
The church is not called to determine the best way to reach the lost, because God already has determined that: through planting biblical churches. In the same way, we are not called to determine the best people for planting churches because God has already determined that as well.
It may be you! Are you ready to get started?
Gabe Martin and his wife, Misty, have been married since 2006 and have two children, Ross and Lily. Gabe proudly served in the U.S. Navy for 11 years. While still in the Navy, Gabe began his seminary training and also served in a variety of ministries, including mission work, leading community servant-evangelism teams, serving on the worship team, teaching Pre-K Bible lessons and various preaching roles. After leaving the military to pursue full-time ministry, he attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he earned his master's of divinity degree. Before coming to San Diego to plant Pillar Church, Gabe served as a pastor in East Texas.