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“I think I want to start a church one day. Where do I start? What should I be doing now?”

This is a frequent question that comes from potential church planters. I think it’s awesome that so many people are interested in church planting. It takes work, but it’s worth it. There are some things you must do before you plant a church, and here are 5 things I tell people.

(Disclaimer: Church planting and church revitalization go hand-in-hand. If you want to get more involved in church planting, start by learning about the essentials of church revitalization so that you emphasize church health. Healthy churches plant churches and as you do, you will want to be sure to invest in not only the challenges but also start taking steps to building a strong church leadership pipeline.)

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5 Things You Must Do Before You Plant a Church

1. Confirm Your Calling.

You can’t just “think” you want to start a church. You need to KNOW that this is what you’re called to and prepared by the Holy Spirit to do. The best way to confirm calling is to let others do it with you and for you. Get their affirmation that you have what it takes to fulfill a church planting role.

Many organizations provide Church Planting Assessments that start online, then move to a personal interview where experienced church planters can help you confirm your design, skills, and call to church plant. Being disgruntled about the church(es) you’re currently attending can be part of a calling, BUT that should not be the only part. Planters are shaped by God with unique qualities.

2. Confirm Your Spouse’s Calling.

Your spouse may or may not be the church planter. Regardless, your spouse needs to have a sense of calling, because so much of the early years of planting a church will encompass your home life. Your call to MARRIAGE should ALWAYS supersede your call to plant a church. If your spouse is not on board — wait!

3. Deal with the Cracks in Your Character.

Church planting can be like a pressure cooker. The stress and heat of the challenges in the beginning of a new church plant will bring out whatever is in you — good or bad. If you are already at your limits or struggling with addiction, anger, or insecurity, church planting will most likely not help you in this struggle. Have a plan that includes accountability, rest, closeness to God, and an intentional plan for moving forward when you feel the pressure rising.

4. Get Equipped.

Read. Attend church planting conferences. Seek out at least one good school or training in church planting. Soak up all you can. Listening to the podcast of a famous church planter is good, but it’s not the training you need to successfully plant a church in a specific context.

A planter will be successful in a particular context, because of intentional systems that are in place, which you will never see by simply listening to a podcast. Find a workshop-type training in your area that will help you plan for evangelism and discipleship in your context to fit your community’s needs.

5. Build Your Network.

There are very few “self-made” church planters. To be successful, you will need others. Start by seeking out prayer partners, and do this as soon as possible. Start an e-newsletter or send personal emails to everyone you know who might pray for you.

Look for people who are interested in what God’s doing in your life. Let them know what you’re praying about and seek their partnership in prayer. You’ll will also need financial partners, individuals to be a part of your core team, and a network of other planters/coaches/mentors who will advise you along the way. Building your network NOW will help propel you forward faster in the future.

Ask yourself these questions before moving forward:

  • Are you called by God? or just disgruntled? Do you desire fame? or something else?
  • Who is helping you confirm your calling?
  • Is your spouse and family on board?
  • Have you dealt with cracks in your character?
  • Do you have a strong, supportive network?
  • How many prayer partners do you have?

And one last thing to consider: 

  • Consider being part of a another church planting team. Nothing prepares you for planting like experiencing it first hand as a team member. If you’re able, find a new church to become a member of for at least a year and get to know real life church planting. You can use this time to work on these things you must do before planting a church, as well as validate your calling. And who knows…maybe that church plant will be a big part of your growing network!

Source: This post originally appeared at Lane Corley’s website

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Lane Corley is not only a contributor on the Malphurs Group blog for pastors, church leaders, and church consultants but also a church planter and strategist for the Louisiana Baptist Convention. He is the husband to Heather and father to 3 children. || @LaneCorley || www. lanecorley.com ||