One of the most often asked questions from pastors who have never planted is, “what do we do to get a planter ready?” The answer to that question has far reaching effects on both the planter and the Sending Church. The adequate preparation of a planter to plant is the most critical factor affecting the health and longevity of a planter. Likewise, the “success” of the plant greatly impacts the desire of the Sending Church to plant again. There are four essential components that Sending Churches are to provide in preparing a planter to plant.
The adequate preparation of a planter to plant is the most critical factor affecting the health and longevity of a planter.
1. Learning Cohorts
There is no shortage of resources available on church planting. I am thankful for the planters and leaders who, through their writings, videos and conferences, have helped to influence and guide many planters in their next steps. However, the most beneficial, if not life-changing resource to provide a planter is to have them gather with others in a relational, experiential, learning community. Planters who gather with others for a period of time to learn, think, discuss, and develop their skills and strategies for planting have a much higher degree of becoming self-sustaining. Even if a cohort is not available locally, a Sending Church could create a learning community with the pastor and key leaders using readily available books and training guides.
Planters who gather with others for a period of time to learn, think, discuss, and develop their skills and strategies for planting have a much higher degree of becoming self-sustaining.
2. Leadership Conversations
Within every church exists at least one, if not dozens, of influential leaders. Church planting, at its core, is a leadership enterprise empowered and guided by the Spirit. The planter must maintain an intimacy with God while also learning everything he can about leadership. The more a planter can learn about leadership, the better prepared they will be to effectively lead. Sending Churches can increase the leadership capacity of their planter by leveraging the leaders within their church. Having a planter develop a list of leadership questions and then setting up meetings with high capacity ministry, community and business leaders in the church, greatly increases the leadership skills in a planter.
3. Public Celebrations
The public celebration of a planter is the easiest experience to provide a planter in preparing them plant, but it also may be one of the most neglected. How does this help them in preparing to plant? Recognizing and publicly celebrating a planter provides them with validation, allowing them to expose more people to their mission. There are number of ways that a planter can be celebrated by their Sending Church:
• Giving the planter opportunities to preach on Sunday mornings
• Setting up a times for the planter to share their story with Sunday School classes, leadership teams, small groups, men’s groups, mission groups, and student and children events.
• Having the pastor regularly encourage church members to: Pray for the planter, Support the planter, or Consider joining the planter
• Giving the planter space to write updates in the church wide newsletters
• Praying for the planter regularly and mentioning their names often in worship services and corporate gatherings
The exposure given to the church planter in these ways helps to create a love for the planter among church members that will motivate members to support them long after the planter has left the Sending Church.
Recognizing and publicly celebrating a planter provides them with validation, allowing them to expose more people to their mission.
4. Personal Security
Every planter is looking for some security. Their world has just been turned upside down, so security becomes a precious commodity. One of the greatest ways to prepare a planter is to give them security in knowing that they have a place to call home. Dorothy, in the Wizard of Oz, said it best, “There’s no place like home!” Everyone needs a home! Home has many different connotations but here is what home means to planters:
• A place that loves them…and lets them know they are loved.
• A place that is intentional about asking how they are doing.
• A place that is safe enough to share fears, failures, and heartaches.
• A place that gives encouragement, advice, correction, and support.
• A place they can come back and be known and celebrated.
When a Sending Church provides emotional and spiritual security, a planter leaves knowing that regardless of the road ahead, they are ready to give themselves to fulfilling God’s call to plant a healthy, vibrant, life-giving church.
Published October 26, 2015