Who Should Plant Churches?


Plant ChurchesI had a phone call yesterday with my friend Paul Madson. Paul and I both planted churches in 1990. I was in Castaic, California planting Lake Hills Community Church. Paul was in Peoria, Arizona planting New Life Community Church. Both of us were blessed to be part of the Missionary Church Western District.

Yesterday as we spoke, Paul said, “One of the hardest tasks in ministry is church planting. It’s not for the faint hearted and not for who aren’t called and gifted.”

I agree with Paul – yet how do responsible leaders in churches, networks and denominations discern who should plant churches. What about those who are very passionate but not skilled? What about someone who says, “I feel God has called me to start a church. Whether you send me or not, I’m going to do it?”

Tonight I was speaking with my friend Wladimir Navarro, pastor of worship at Mountain View Community Church in Fort Collins, Colorado. He shared with me from I Chronicles 25:7 how those who were selected to lead in music ministry at the house of God were to be “trained and skilled.”

Along with their relatives—all of them trained and skilled in music for the Lord —they numbered 288. (emphasis added)

It makes sense to me that if it mattered to God that those where were selected to lead in worship were “all of them trained and skilled,” this must also be true for church planters.

Just because someone feels called to church planting does not mean they should go plant a church!

This calling must be confirmed by the Holy Spirit and those in leadership within a local church. (See Acts 13 where the Holy Spirit sends Barnabas and Saul to plant churches).

I have seen that there is a direct relationship between the impact and sustainability of a new church and the giftedness of the church planter.

When will we stop investing kingdom resources (time, energy, volunteers, money, etc.) in those who are not proven multipliers?

Let me say this again – Just because someone feels called to church planting does not mean they should go plant a church!

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Dave DeVries About Dave DeVries

Dave DeVries is a missionary to the US with OC International. He is focused on accelerating missional movements by equipping and empowering pastors and church planters to embrace missional practices, and partnering with denominational and church leaders to strategically multiply churches across America. You can read his blog at Misisonal Challenge. Dave trains church planters with the CMTC and trains coaches with Creative Results Management. He also is the North America coordinator for the Global Church Planting Network (GCPN).

  • Gary Comer

    If a Christian with no experience is called by the Holy Spirit to start a church then he should do so.
    If a person “feels” called to start a church, he ought to assess his ‘feelings’ in relation to an actual calling by the Holy Spirit. Enthusiasm/passion is often mistake for a calling.
    I know an untrained pastor who was called by the Holy Spirit to start a church in Alaska. He followed the calling and the church was established and flourished. Other churches he pastored in the SBC also flourished.
    But I have known a lot more who ‘felt’ they were called to the ministry and fell flat on their face. Further, a doctorate from a seminary does not make a pastor or church starter, God does by calling and provision of gifts.

  • Scott

    I liked your article. And I agree that our focus needs to be on making disciples. I am confused with one comment you made. You say “Most importantly – if someone who wants to start a church hasn’t been making disciples who make disciples who make disciples (to the 4th Generation), then don’t send them out to plant a church until they have done this.”
    Surely, you do not mean the 4th generation of Great grandparents to grandparents to parents to children, do you? It seems to me that would make all church planters to be senior citizens before they ever planted their first church.
    (sorry, if this is a stupid question, but I am unfamiliar with that illustration being used in any different context)


    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1540509434 Ed Taylor

      Scott, I think he just means four deep, or at least that you make disciples that make disciples – creating a culture of multiplication.

    • https://plus.google.com/103036981056602385488 Dr. Dave DeVries

      Thanks for the question. I’m definitely not writing about generations in terms of physical relationships. I’m focusing on spiritual relationships and generations. Paul writes to Timothy in 2 Tim 2:2, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”
      Here we see four generations: Paul > Timothy > Reliable People > Others
      This is the type of proven multiplier that I believe is best qualified to plant churches – someone who is making disciples who make disciples who make disciples.
      I hope that gives greater clarity.

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