10 Confirmations that You are Called to Church Planting

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After processing the church planting call (see the blog, “11 Ways to Sense God’s Call to Church Planting”), it is common to seek confirmations and God often provides a quick succession of confirmations. As the church planter begins to launch out and follow God’s leading, God begins to send encouraging happenings to affirm the direction the church planter is moving in. Here are 10 confirmations to look for:

  1. Leadership Affirmations: Authorities in your life give the green light for you to proceed with plans for the launch of the new church.
  2. Support in Principle: If married, the spouse of the church planter is frequently ‘nervously supportive’ of this new venture. The spouse is not actively against moving in this new direction.
  3. Open Doors: Once the decision has been made to proceed with the church planting effort, a quick series of ‘provisions, opportunities and divine appointments’ begin to present themselves to encourage the early efforts of the church planter.
  4. Verifying Data: The hard data confirms the need for a church to be planted in the area.
  5. Present On-Site Nucleus: Sometimes the church planter quickly discovers and connects with a small group of like-minded people in the new community who have been praying and anxious to support a new church planting effort in their community.
  6. Relentless Gnawing Conviction: The bold sense of “God is in this” becomes increasingly evident in the church planter’s heart and mind. The conviction and determination grows; it does not diminish.
  7. Financial Support: God begins to provide financially for the real life ministry and housing needs/ expenses of the church planter and their team. Often this financial support comes from a variety of sources (unless the church planting effort is a ‘daughter-church’ situation).
  8. Early Success: Most often, when God is in and behind the church plant, there are a number of amazing examples of God’s blessing and favor upon the early efforts of the church planter (i.e. early stories of conversions and spiritual conversations.). The wise church planter will keep a journal of those early stories, as encouragement for later on when Satan is actively opposing their efforts.
  9. Closing Doors: When God is in the process of moving people from one location, to another location, ministry opportunities and relationships begin to close down in the former location. It is not uncommon that formerly warm relationships begin to fracture slightly, thus making it easier for the church planter to leave their former situation/employment.
  10. Relationship Fit: It becomes increasingly apparent there is a strong fit between the church planter’s personality and leadership style, and that of the community into which they are moving.

When God places His call on a person’s life He will reiterate and affirm the call through varying sources and people. It is not uncommon for those whom God is calling to begin to see and hear multiple messages and confirmations that God is actually the One behind this calling. (Consider 2 Cor. 13:1.)

If you are open to confirmations, then I recommended to go where you think God may be calling you to plant to see and sense the area before making a commitment to plant in that community. Jesus first went, saw, felt, and then ministered (see Mt. 9:35-36) … there is something about that order of things which seems very consistent with the way God leads many people. Finally, it is not uncommon to see God’s sense of humor in our calling. Many people have noted that the very thing they said they would never do is the thing God asks them to do; that the very place they said they would never go is exactly place God sends them! It can be a dangerous thing to say “Never!” to God!

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Rev. Dr. Stephen Elliott is Director and Professor of Pastoral Ministry & Church Planting Degree Programs and Campus Pastor at Kingswood University in Sussex, New Brunswick. He began his full-time ministry in 1983 when he and his wife Helen began a church plant in Ottawa, Ontario with just 2 people. When he left Ottawa 22 years later to pursue doctoral studies, the church was the 4th largest evangelical church in the Ottawa area and the second largest Wesleyan church in Canada with a staff of eleven and a church constituency of over 1300. He is known for his creative and dynamic pulpit ministry, his emphasis on visionary leadership, his passion for healthy/vibrant local church ministries, and his tender and compassionate pastoral heart.

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