About once a week, or sometimes more frequently, I get an email or tweet from someone who says they feel led to plant a church. They almost always have the same question: "What do I do now? What’s my first step?"
After answering dozens of times, I decided to put my thoughts in a post.
Step one: Run as fast as you can!
Just kidding, although that does give you a testimony like Jonah. Again, just kidding.
Here are five immediate steps I would recommend:
1. Check your heart. Are you sure church-planting is what you are being called to do, or is it a desire because everyone else is doing it? It’s fine if you are. We need church planters. But we also need people willing to help established churches thrive. It’s hard work to change what’s established already—but so is church planting. Make sure you know that what you’re getting into is what God’s drawing you into.
2. Check your spouse’s heart. Church planting is not a sole venture. No ministry is, for that matter. If you are married, you will need to be on the same page with your spouse, no doubt about it. Trying to do this without complete buy-in from both parties will destroy one or the other—the church plant or the marriage.
3. Determine where you feel called to plant. That’s an important beginning step. Much of your future steps will depend on this one. Many times, you already know this, and I think God gives tremendous latitude in this. We need churches lots of places. But this will be one of the most difficult decisions you make if you don’t know. I once thought I wanted to plant in New York City. I still might someday. But when I spent time talking to God about this, I sensed Him releasing me from the desire and pointing me in another direction.
4. Find others interested. This is critical. If you tell me you can’t find anyone—and I hear that often—I’d seriously question how successful you are going to be. Just as with Elijah in 1 Kings 19, in my experience, God is always “reserving” (1 Kings 19:18) people He plans to use in the vision He is shaping in you. To build a body, you need those who are part of the body to start.
5. Find experienced help. It can be a denomination, another church or an experienced pastor or mentor, but don’t do it alone. Let me say that a little clearer: Don't do it alone. Too much has been learned about church planting to miss out on someone else’s experience.
Those are my first five initial suggestions. What would you suggest?
Ron Edmondson is a pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Ky. He is also a church leadership consultant who is passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Prior to ministry, Ron had more than 20 years of business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner. Follow Ron on Facebook, Twitter, and his blog at ronedmondson.com.
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