The Call of the Church Planter: 6 Reminders

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Editor’s Introduction:

A brand new month is upon us at the Church Planter Collective! Yesterday we heard from Rev. Carolyn Moore and discerning a call. The sermon served as an introduction to the call of the church planter. Over the next month, we will have podcasts, sermons, and blogs from biblical studies, testimony, and theology on the call of the church planter. We know there are grueling days in church planting and sometimes holding on to the call of God is the only thing the planter might have left. To kickstart our fresh month, here are 6 reminders on the call of the church planter from Dr. Will Willimon.

The Call of the Church Planter–6 Reminders

  1. Church planting is so risky, prone to failure, difficult, and demanding that no one can do this work without being called by God to do it. You can’t hire a church planter; they must be sent by God, commissioned, summoned, that is called. 
  1. If you are called to be a church planter, your being in this job was God’s idea before it was yours. Your rationale for undertaking this work, your only hope of success is in God’s hands; not yours.
  1. The most demanding aspect of church planting is not to be properly vetted for the work, not to receive the right tools and skills, but to handle being utterly dependent upon God to show up, to bless your work, and to convene the church. Only God can birth or kill a church.
  1. Most church plants fail, not because of a lack of ability or determination in the planters but rather because, our God is sovereign, free to come and free to go, free to bless or to curse, to kill or to make alive. The same God who risked calling people like us into church leadership, thereby demanding us to take huge risks for God sometimes blesses our work and sometimes doesn’t for reasons known only to God.
  1. We, though called to serve God in planting a church, have no special access to the mind of God. This means that we do not know why God allows some church plants to fail. From what I’ve observed, the Lord seems more interested in planting churches, lots of churches, in a place like Haiti and less interested in having a plethora of churches in Hoboken. Jesus’ teaching and ministry indicate that God has a preference for some neighborhoods over others.
  1. One reason why it’s important for church planters to remember and refurbish their sense of being called to this work is their knowledge that if God could have called someone like us to do this work, it’s reasonable to assume that God might adopt other seemingly hopeless causes like planting a church in this neighborhood among these people. Any God who delights in calling odd, not-too-talented persons (like us!) to be part of the expansion of his kingdom can be expected to plant a community of faith in the “wrong” neighborhood among less-than-perfect people.