There are potential church planters in many of our churches; men and women involved in ministry whose potential you could affirm and who you could encourage to explore a call to pioneer something new. As you read this, who springs to mind?
In the first article we introduced four characteristics of church planters: Faith, Resilience, Spousal Support (if married) and Flexibility & Adaptability. These were all fairly straightforward and common to most leaders in the church. The next set of characteristics all revolve around people and relationships.
To be an effective church planter, relational skills are critical. To state the obvious, church is about people. However, it is not just ‘people skills’ that are important; it is the ability to form people into teams and put some structure around the emerging faith community.
Church planters may be charismatic personalities who people gravitate towards. But whatever their personal style, the best planters work hard to develop relationships and create positive relational culture in the new church.
The following are four key relational abilities we are looking for as we interview potential planters.
- Relationship Building – Here we are looking for evidence of an ability to meet new people and engage them in relationships at various depths. Does the person have a capacity to build strong social networks? Do they handle criticism well?
- Building Groups – We seek out examples of how they have orchestrated differing people to function together as a unified body. Allied to this is how effective they have been in utilising small groups. We are also seeking to understand how they handle conflicts and seek to resolve them.
- Creating Ownership – A church planter can’t do everything themselves and we look for examples of ‘passing on the baton of ministry’ so that others continue the race. We seek evidence of how this leader has produced other leaders.
- Utilising the Gifts of Others – Are the prospective planters able to assess, develop and release others to serve in their area of giftedness? We are looking for evidence of how they have equipped others and what process they use to identify giftedness and ministry opportunities.
Good people skills are important in all aspects of ministry. In church planting, these skills are put to the test. There are no existing structures to help; the planter and their team will need to create them.
In short, assessing potential planters includes getting a good handle on their relational ability and how God is at work through them in the lives of others.
Look out for more on spotting a potential church planter in the next issue of Together.