5 Questions to consider before you plant a church

By Garth Leno

I have watched church plants and church planting families fold too soon. We need to pay better attention on the front end before we plant.

Here are five questions to consider before you plant your church:

1. Have you tested your call to plant a church?

Before you begin to plant, you need more than a feeling or a response to an emotional Sunday morning appeal. You need to know beyond any doubt that Jesus has called you to plant a church. You need others to affirm this, and you need a church to send you. Your call to plant should be confirmed through assessment and training and affirmed by the kindest words of friends and family, but you need to know what you need to know: Jesus has called you.

2. Is your wife called to church planting?
Church planting is not a solo sport. Planting a church will put your marriage to the test, so make sure your marriage can withstand the pressure, and the tensions it will place on your family.

If your wife is not called to this, you are going to fail. You need her on your team. It takes the whole family to do this well. Ensure your wife is on board and senses the calling of the Holy Spirit on her life to stand with you and work beside you.

3. Are you paying attention to character?

A church planter is an elder who needs to be “above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect” (1 Timothy 3:1-4 ESV).

This is more about character than a job description. Successful leadership starts with character, and so does effective church planting. This endeavor will bring out the best and the worst in you. Have a plan. Get close to God and close to some other brothers who can walk this out with you.

4. Have you received training?

When I planted The Gathering in 2014, I went in with a B.Th., M.Div, Th.M and a D.Min. I was educated to the moon and back, but I didn’t know anything about church planting.

I attended every conference within range. I listened to podcasts. I called new friends I’d made who were planting elsewhere. I devoured good books. Finally, I signed up for the Master of Arts in Church Planting at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Do what you have to do to find training that fits your context and calling.

5. Who will do this with you?

Find other pastors in your area. Tell them what you’re planning to do. Listen to their stories. Attend to their advice. Snoop in their toolbox to find the tools that work best for them. Take notes. Be vulnerable. Talk about your dreams and your failures. Treat a fellow pastor to coffee or lunch and ask him to pray for you.

You cannot do this alone.

When we first planted, three of my best pastor friends thought we were crazy. Now, five years later, one of them is a church planter, too! He caught the virus because we crafted a brotherhood in our city. You’ll need to build a brotherhood too!

Interested in discovering if God has called you to plant a church? Click here to learn more about Send Network’s assessment process.

Published September 24, 2020

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Garth Leno

Garth Leno lives in Windsor, Ontario Canada, with his wife and one daughter, Jamie. Two more children, Nathan and Kristin, are married with families of their own. Garth is the senior pastor at The Gathering, which he planted with friends in 2014. He also is on the Send Network Canadian Advisory Board. He has a doctorate from Bethel Theological Seminary and loves to preach.