Have you ever wondered how to spot good church planters? Practical wisdom says to look for the kind of person others want to follow, but I’m not sure that is always true.
There weren’t a lot of people lining up to follow Saul of Tarsus—there were quite a few running from him, in fact—but no one was following. No one was following Peter the fisherman or Matthew the tax collector or Zacchaeus the “wee little man.” But these men were the very people Jesus picked to lead a spiritual revolution.
The best church planters are young apostles in the making: full of radical ideas, as frustrating as can be, and wonderfully direct in their belief in the power of God and their desire to reach everyone with the gospel. They are filled with a passion to reach people outside the walls of the church.
Though that passion might present itself as a type of holy dissatisfaction with you and me, it really is the stirrings of the Holy Spirit to look beyond what they have already experienced, to look to what He is about to birth through their calling and commitment to plant a new church.
So, how can we help these pastors in the making? How do we help them prepare for the wonderful world of church planting?
Listen to their stories.
Listen to their stories, and tell them a few of your own. Storytelling sparks emotion, vision and commitment.
Who was not inspired by Caleb and Joshua’s report of Canaan, a land flowing with milk, honey and giants? As Caleb and Joshua shared their story, they reminded the Israelites of God’s promises, His power and His commitment to His chosen people. The stories church planters tell us mark the history of God actively bringing them into a deeper relationship with Him.
Teach and train them.
Benjamin Franklin wrote: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” The interaction between teaching and training is critical.
Teaching fills the mind with the necessary bits of information needed to make sense of the world around us. Training takes all those disconnected bits and weaves them into the habits, commitments and behaviors that mark the life of men and women called to be living examples of God’s amazing and transformational grace.
Teaching and training position us to echo the words of the apostle Paul: “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice” (Phil. 4:9, NIV).
Believe in them and support them.
The book of Acts tells the most remarkable story of Barnabas and the Antioch church. It seems that the church in Jerusalem did not know what to do with a group of Gentile, Greek Christians who had launched an unsanctioned church some 300 miles away, so they sent Barnabas to check it out.
When he arrived, Barnabas evaluated the spiritual authenticity of the believers in Antioch. He “saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts” (Acts 11:23). Barnabas believed what he saw of God’s grace in their lives and their church—in fact, he believed in them so much that he joined them on their mission with God.
The power of believing in someone is transformational. God told David that He believed in him, referring to David as a man after His own heart (Acts 13:22), and Jesus told Peter He believed in him, and told Peter to “feed My sheep” (John 21:17).
Church planters need well-respected, seasoned leaders to encourage them and spur them on to the great things God has in store for them to do. Sure, they need experience, teaching and training, but there is a hole in the human heart of every would-be leader that is best filled by acts of encouragement, affirmation and support.
The Foursquare Church has three core Missional Objectives to guide our collective missional focus and develop a healthy culture in our churches. These include: (1) leadership development; (2) church and congregation multiplication; and (3) church health and transformation. Learn more about Foursquare’s Missional Objectives.