Live blog 6: Missional Church Planting conference

Communications Staff — May 12, 2009

Speaker: Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research.

Session title: Church planter characteristics

This session is about church planters, not churches or church planting.

Stetzer’s material here is based on a study done by Charles Ridley, ‘How to Select Church Planters,’ during his time as a professor at Fuller Seminary. Ridley worked with several hundred church planters for the study.

16 characteristics that many effective planters share (Stetzer made it through 13)

1. Visioning capacity

Church planters need to demonstrate ability to formulate, express and implement a clear and compelling vision. Many pastors are not good at casting vision because they don’t have to.

Church planters need to be able to project into the future beyond the present and persuasively selling a vision to people. You don’t have to be cool to communicate a vision to people: you do need to be able to communicate a vision to be a church planter.

2. Intrinsically motivated

Has a deep sense or call or mission. Has a deep desire to do things well and a commitment to do things right — ‘do all as unto the Lord.’ Has stick-to-itiveness and persistence.

Church planters are so motivated to do church planting that they will get other jobs if that is necessary, etc.

You need to be theologically driven as well.

3. Creates ownership (of ministry)

Helps people ‘buy in’ and feel responsible for the growth and success of the group. Gains commitment of the people to the vision. Establishes a group identity.

And the church planter avoids imposing unrealistic goals for which the group cannot claim ownership.

4. Relates to lost people and other unchurched people

Church planters communicate in a style that is understood by lost and unchurched people. Understands the ‘psychology’ or mentality of lost and unchurched people. Gets to know lost and unchurched people on a personal level.

You have to be a real person. You need to be able to relate to normal people in a normal world to be a church planter.

Some people are hesitant to hang out with lost people because they are worried about holiness. You don’t have to separate yourself from sinners to be holy; you have to separate yourself from sin.

5. Spousal cooperation

Having an agreed upon concept of family life to which each member has input and commitment. Having an explicit agreement regarding each partner’s respective role and involvement in ministry. Having explicit rules regarding the use of home as an office.

The number one cause of failure among church plants is leadership and the number one problem among leaders is spousal issues.

Every time I have planted a church, my spiritual life has suffered and my marriage has suffered, Stetzer said.

Stetzer said his wife did not have interest in being visible in ministry in his church plants. His wife was an active, faithful church member and was excited about that. Church planters need to nourish and protect their wives and make sure they are in a position they are comfortable with and excited about.

The wives of church planters need to share their husband’s vision for church planting. They don’t have to want to play a leading role in the work of church planting, but they do have to share a vision for church planting. If they don’t, their husband should not plant a church.

6. Effectively builds relationships

Responds with urgency to expressed needs and concerns of people. Displays godly love and compassion to people. Being proactive in getting to know people on a personal basis. Making others feel secure and comfortable in one’s presence.

This does not mean that introverts can’t be church planters. Stetzer knows an introvert personally who is great at building relationships, who will walk in a room and interact with different people, and who then goes home and needs time to himself.

Use of time for church planters:

Church planters should work a 50 hour work week. People that might join their church work at least 40 hours a week and the planter will expect at least five hours of volunteer work in the church each week. Church planters need to work 50 hours a week, but not 80 hours a week.

  • 10-15 hours in the Word.
  • 10-15 hours ministering to people.
  • 10-15 hours doing administrative work.
  • 10-15 hours meeting strangers.

These first six characteristics are the ‘knockout’ categories. When Stetzer assesses church planters, they have to meet the first six characteristics.

7. Committed to church growth

Committed to numerical growth within the context of spiritual and relational growth (more and better disciples).

8. Responsive to community

Getting involved in the life of one’s community or people group.

9. Utilizes the giftedness of others

10. Flexible and adaptable

This is a key characteristic, in addition to the top six.

Addresses challenges creatively. Copes effectively with constant and abrupt change.

11. Builds group cohesiveness

12. Resilience

Experiences setbacks without defeat. Rides the ups and downs of attendance.

13. Exercises faith

Are you ready to become a pastor, counselor, or church leader who is Trusted for Truth?

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