It’s easy to spot a church planter. Typically, it’s a man full of ambition, captivated by the call and risk to go not knowing what lays ahead. It’s a man with visions and dreams who has settled both feet into reality but constantly thinks forward.
The internal sense of calling to such risky work can leave a church planter feeling as though they alone must discern the will of God. Their call to establish community soon leaves them feeling compelled to singularly pursue what they believe God has called them to do. Cue the vulnerability—can you see it? With the potential planter isolated, there’s two possible extremes.
Extreme #1: The Internal Vacuum
For the guy who has placed all confidence in what they sense God is leading them to, he begins to define himself internally and emotionally. He fails to see what God is saying and doing around him…right now. He’s only aware of what he feels and thinks forgetting that God confirms subjective impressions through community.
Extreme #2: The Unanswerable Questions
This planter feels called, but uncertain. He desires to plant a church but can’t get a beat on what God wants him to do. There’s just a hunch. A sense. No confidence. He’s trapped in an endless spiral of questions without answers—of doubts without data. Decades pass with no forward movement.
The key for both extremes is to move beyond the internal call and seek confirmation from others. A burden for planting is a great place to start. It’s important. Sometimes that internal sense will serve as a powerful drive to push through difficulties and obstacles. But imagine a leader who arrives with a subjective sense that is evaluated and confirmed by others. God uses the local church to raise up future leaders.
At the same time, God uses the church to help men discover where they can best be used by God. For some men, this will mean laying down the desire to plant for a plan far better then they can imagine. As difficult as that can be, called men need the care and clarity that comes through objective evaluation.
As a way to serve men who feel called to church planting, as well as local churches, there are two resources that I recommend.
A) The free AIC Assessment Tool (Click to Visit): This tool (which is a simple list of questions, really) is helpful for those seeking to understand their call. By asking a series of questions derived from six categories, an individual can discover potential growth areas that are important for pastoral ministry/church planting. Check it Out!
B.) The Sojourn Network Church Planter Information (Click to Visit):The Sojourn Network has developed a detailed process for those interested in church planting. By working together with potential planters and local sending churches, the network works to develop healthy pastors who lead healthy churches.
Why these resources? Because others must help us see ourselves. It helps the “man of extremes” to take his internal sense of God’s call and place it in the hands of others, for their evaluation and input. It assists the potential planter by either confirming or adjusting his own sense of gifting, integrity, and calling. And it takes an otherwise difficult decision and places it in the context of community, accountability, and humility.
If you’re considering a church plant, take the AIC Assessment results to your pastor, your mentor, your friends, and your spouse. This will help facilitate honest discussion about who you are and what you are called to do. Mostly, it will provide an opportunity for those that know you and love you to be heard by you…because through their assessment, God will likely speak.