What’s Your Calling?
Not everyone experiences a miraculous sense of calling when it comes to church planting. While it may not be through an audible voice, God still makes His ways known in our lives in so many other ways. For many planters, there does seem to be some sort of wiring within them that leads to this pursuit of this ministry path. However, many different kinds of people can plant churches in many different ways.
As believers, we are all called to the work of church planting in some capacity. Here’s how you can discern that role within your own life as a follower of Christ.
1. Include others on your journey of discernment
First and foremost, your discernment process involves other people. You can think of calling in three separate components. There’s the piece that includes you and Jesus: You listen to Him, taking in what He has to say. But then there’s also affirmation, which comes from other people in your life, those who are really close to you like your spouse, mentors, close friends, and the elders in your churches.
2. Look at Scripture’s qualifications and your own qualities
1 Timothy 3:17 says, “If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble work.” This adequacy component is not subjective; we have to look to the Bible’s qualifications to see what’s required for those leading in pastoral ministry. There’s the overarching notion of calling, which applies to any pastor. However, for church planners specifically, there are some extrabiblical things that may help you within this specific field of ministry. While we can’t make a biblical case for these things, we can simply note that people who have these qualities may do better in planting than others. Overall, there are many things that can allow planters to be more successful. Some do well without these characteristics, but they may also have a high commitment level and the willingness to work really hard to hone in their planter skills.
Evangelistic fervor is a hugely helpful quality because if a person isn’t evangelistically fervent, it would be nearly impossible to plant a new church that reaches lost people. So, do you practice evangelism, and have you experienced fruitfulness in your life from doing so? If not, then church planting may not be the best place for you to begin, especially as a full-time venture. Additionally, someone who is a self-starter, a person who wakes up in the morning intuitively determined to charge towards action, will do well as a planter. If you have the tenaciousness to take a blow, get back up, and keep going, you can go far in this field of ministry.
3. Consider what you’re drawn toward
Consider the desires you have toward pursuing certain areas of ministry. Spurgeon said that if you can find yourself happy doing any other thing, you should pursue that desire. So, there must be an internal motivation, a draw toward something. Perhaps you’ve experienced this call and have an entrepreneurial spirit about you, along with a starting focus to move in the direction of planting a church. This may be a minority view, but consider the idea that you may need a call to plant to a specific people or place. When the going gets harder and even more increasingly difficult, you need to be able to say, “God called me to these people in this place.” You will want to have a rooted commitment from God as you go through this journey on mission.
Sometimes, people leave churches for wrong reasons and go into church planting, and God still uses that to build great churches and to mature His people along the way. It’s not uncommon to hear a planter say, “I left for all the wrong reasons, but God taught and chased me along the way.” And while this is great, an even better scenario is when a church recognizes the giftedness of a person—along with the opportunity to pursue a particular mission field—and then willingly, joyfully sends that person with the resources and people to go get it started.
4. Seek out an opportunity
Take a hard look at your personal competency. Consider if you are really that good at the work required of a church planter, or if you have the potential to become that good at it—along with the willingness to dedicate yourself to it completely. This idea of competency is a big piece of the puzzle, but you can’t initially know where you stand in this area. One way to wade into the world of church planting is by joining a church planting team or being a part of a bivocational church planting effort before jumping in full-time.
One assumption a lot people have is that they must be called to serve as a lead planters, but there are so many ways we could be involved in church planting. Not all of those ways require the same extrabiblical entrepreneurial tenaciousness. There are so many critical roles and started ministries that wouldn’t have been established without a huge toolkit of people and all they had to offer to the church. Ultimately, church planting is a game that everyone gets to play. If you’re dipping your toe into church planting and are interested particularly in being a church planter, a great way to begin to get a sense of your calling would be to join a church planting residency.
A Plentiful Harvest
Overall, church planting is wonderful, challenging, and worthwhile work. It’s a call that should not be taken lightly. So, consider these four ways to get yourself started in the world of church planting by looking in and seeing the person God created you to be, while also looking out into the world and seeking the opportunities He has ready already prepared for you.
Whether you’re a lead planter or a member of a launch team, remember: the harvest is plenty, and the workers include you.
Adapted from Episode: 626 How Do I Get Started in Church Planting? of the New Churches Podcast. Listen here for more!
Published October 2, 2023