Should I be a church planter?

Should I Be a Church Planter?

By Chris Dowd

You may be wondering about the role that church planting plays in your life. Here's how you can add clarity to your calling to multiply disciples to the ends of the earth.

The question to pursue church planting is such a great one and an inquiry I wish more people invested time in. Church planting is perhaps the most challenging and most rewarding thing that God calls us to. It is also a high calling and one that should not be taken lightly. Very difficult days make up one’s church-planting journey, and on those days, all you may have to hang onto is the clarity of your calling.

So, let’s clarify the question.

1. Should I be involved in church planting?

The answer is yes. Church planting is not only a very pragmatic answer for the needs of our culture, but it is absolutely biblical as well. Church planting is inherently a part of the Great Commission and the natural result of multiplying disciples to the ends of the earth.

The questions really are: Should I plant the gospel? Yes. Should I multiply disciples? Yes. If we plant the gospel and multiply disciples, will we see new churches born? Yes. No matter what vocation God is calling you to invest in, you should be involved in the planting of churches all over the world.

2. Should I be part of a church-planting team?

Probably. If you navigated your way through this website and clicked on this article, then you should probably keep reading. Most people confuse their involvement with church planting based on titles. Many will say, “But I’m not a church planter.” Stop thinking titles and start thinking teams.

You can have a role on a church-planting team while still pursuing the calling that God has placed upon your life. I have the privilege of working at a great university, and I view every student on our campus as a potential church-planting team member. Don’t divorce your vocational calling from the bride of Christ.

3. Should I lead the team?

Maybe. This is really the question that you are asking. It’s probably the reason you are still reading this article. Is God calling me to be a lead church planter? How do I know that? Many things must be taken into consideration when discovering the answer to these questions.

Many sources will have you look at your character, core competencies, leadership capacity, and the like. However, the question that you are really asking is about calling. You can have all of the abilities and skills required to lead a church-planting team, but it still might not be what God wants you to do. The question is not “Can I be a church planter?”, but rather “Should I be a church planter?”

Now, let’s ask some clarifying questions.

1. What do you say?

How do you currently answer the question of your call to plant churches? God can implement many things to communicate His will for our lives. One of the ways God accomplishes this is by using our passions and desires to lead us or to clarify His calling upon our lives. 1 Timothy 3:1 states, “This saying is trustworthy: ‘If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble work.'” Do you want to lead a team that will serve their community through showing and sharing the gospel? Do you desire the amazing task of overseeing and shepherding people?

The caution here is that these are feelings, and feelings can certainly change. You could feel the pull toward church planting one day and then not feel that pull the next. It is difficult to make life-changing decisions based only upon tugs and nudges or pulls and pushes. It is one way that God leads us, but it is not the only way.

2. What do others say?

How would others answer this question on your behalf? God can speak through others in order to reveal His calling upon our lives. Share your question with people who know you well. Ask your friends, your family, your pastor, and others within your circle of influence. You will want confirmation of this calling from your local church family. There is nothing quite as life giving than when others champion you in your calling. Proverbs 24:6 declares, “…for you should wage war with sound guidance—victory comes with many counselors.” Seek an abundance of wise counselors before you wage your war.

The caution here is that we tend to seek counsel from those who will tell us what we want to hear when we should instead seek it from those who love us enough to tell the truth. Friends and family know you best but may be tempted to simply support your initial leanings. Find those who will also be able to look you in the eye and lovingly challenge your conclusions.

3. What does God say?

How would God answer this question? This is the most important source of truth we can turn to. God reveals, clarifies, and confirms His will through His Word. An abundance of Scripture testifies to the revealed will of God upon our lives. Many things we do not have to question because God has spoken very clearly on the topic. He can also confirm His unrevealed personal will for our lives through His Word. Consider the verses or passages that God is using to confirm His calling upon your life right now. He also uses prayer to speak to His children. When you pray, are you being led by the Spirit to pursue this calling more?

The caution with this step is that we will often say we’re studying Scripture and praying while we are actually spending very little time here. The author of Hebrews declares, “Now without faith it is impossible to please God, since the one who draws near to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). So, open your Bible and meditate on Scripture. Spend time ascending the hill and crying out to God. Do not say, “I’m praying about this,” while never uttering a word to God about it. Seek Him with diligence.

Keep moving in faith

When all three areas begin to align and when all three answer the question with yes, then you will find confirmation of your calling. I pray that you would then find the confidence to move forward in faith.

Here are some next steps for you to take:

Jesus says in Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Keep asking. Keep seeking. Keep knocking. Clarifying your call to church planting is absolutely crucial to keep you from walking away from it when life gets difficult.

Additional resources

Your particular denomination or preferred church-planting network likely has an assessment process. Here is the SEND Network interest form. Research and take some initial steps toward discovering more about your own personality, strengths, and weaknesses, as well as who you are and who you are not.

Published June 19, 2023

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Chris Dowd

Chris Dowd serves as the director of church planting at Liberty University and teaches both residentially and online. He is currently a leading elder at Bedrock Community Church in Bedford, Virginia, where he leads the teaching team and their network of church plants. Serving in state convention leadership since 2010, he has held various roles within the SBCV and most recently as director of church planter development. His research and writing interests include church planting, church ministry and theology, which fuels his passion for the local church. Since 1994, he has served in local church ministry as a communicator, a course charter and a coach.