Four Attributes of a Planter in the Making

Jen and I started our church planting journey back in 1998 when, prior to our wedding, we were searching for a church to attend after college and stumbled into a brand new church plant meeting in a movie theater. It was full of life, bustling with creativity, and seemed to lack any of the fights I had grown accustomed to in my childhood years which were marred by discussions over dinner of worship wars, family divisions, and arguments over pews versus chairs.

In the subsequent years, we would move away from that new church meeting in the theater to attend seminary, run a business, start a family, and pursue full-time vocational ministry. During those years I would get a call about twice a year from my friend who led the assessment centers asking if I would consider attending. He would always say, “We see in you some key building blocks found in church planters…”

It was not until 2006 that we finally agreed to board a flight for Green Lake, Wisconsin, to attend a Church Planter’s Assessment Center and be formally assessed as a potential church planting couple. From there, I guess you could say, the rest is history. A few years after receiving a “green light” to plant, we launched Disciples Church and since that time have been heavily invested in church planters and the churches they launch.

But what were the things that people saw in our lives between those years of 1998 and 2006 that led to all those phone calls? And more importantly than rehashing my journey, what are the proven attributes that are found in people God has wired for church planting? As church leaders, regional ministers, and pastors, you are the ones who serve alongside these leaders that God may be tapping on the shoulder to join Him on His mission to plant new churches. What are the attributes or experiences you could look for as precursors to a conversation with a leader about exploring church planting as a possible best-fit in their service to the Kingdom?

Now, before I get to the list, bear in mind we use a proven and comprehensive assessment, or as it is often known, Discovery, center to be our best indication, but prior to assessment, what do we see over and over again in people that are wired for planting?

  1. The leader has a history of starting new things that stood the test of time: businesses, ministries, initiatives.
  2. The leader has faced significant difficulties in life/ministry and come out the other side with the joy of Jesus.
  3. The leader has other high-level leaders who follow them. These leaders are surrounded by leaders, not only doers.
  4. The leader has a deep love for lost people and helping them find their way back to God.

So as you meet with members of your staff, leaders in your region, or pastors in your city, or even looking inside your own life—keep an eye out for the unique combination of these four attributes, and when you see them in a leader, be courageous enough to say, “You might want to consider exploring church planting…”

Every week I am having conversations with NAB leaders who are considering their next steps, but I don’t want to miss anyone who is ready to explore church planting further. Maybe you’d be willing to connect me with someone you know who is ready for a conversation?

Our next Assessment Center, AKA Discovery Center, is January 21-23 in Irvine, CA. Maybe you know someone who should be there.