The following questions will begin to help you discern if being a church planter is the right calling and vocation for you. These questions were taken from two articles published by Asbury Theological Seminary’s Center for Church Multiplication.

Why do you want to plant a church?

Observing your motivations is important. If you want to plant for any reason other than your heart is breaking for a people, place, or an unshakable sense the Holy Spirit is drawing you, then you may reconsider. If you have heard God calling you, then go in His strength.

What is the vision and the mission?

What is the driving motivation of this local and specific expression of the Church? Your vision is a compelling image of where you are headed. However, the mission is the clear and simple driving force that will get you there. As a church planter, your primary goal is to reach those who aren’t already churchgoers. Church planting isn’t about shuffling the deck of churches in a city but about introducing people to God. What does this look like in the community in which you feel called to plant? This mission will root you in purpose and clarity when your future vision is clouded and out of reach.

Are you flexible and adaptable? 

Filling unexpected roles and navigating a myriad of challenges are parts of this job. If you’re easily stressed when your things don’t go according to plan, this might not be a very good fit. With church planting, almost nothing goes according to plan. It is vitally important to be able and willing to change and adjust plans when necessary, all while never letting go of the goals you are trying to accomplish.

Are you a leader in your local church?

You need to have your fingers deep into the day-to-day realities of ministering to real people and their needs. Leaders don’t suddenly learn how to lead because they have a title or vision. Also, those who can best exercise authority are those who have learned to operate under authority healthily. Do those whom you currently serve underneath recognize your leadership gifts and abilities? Are you learning how to serve under their leadership healthily? The answer to these questions can be great insights into your leadership capability.

Do you have a desire to teach the Bible? 

Teaching the Bible is one of the essential job requirements of a church planter. You aren’t creating a new story but joining an ancient one. Preaching and teaching can take on myriad forms and styles—and this is all for the good. You will learn over the years how this works best for you. But if you don’t find any passion in communicating the Bible, gathering people in a community where you find yourself preaching regularly will be hard.

Who is your team?

Don’t even think about trying this alone. If you are married, your spouse has to believe in your calling and be willing to sacrifice some things. You will need to agree that this is what God is calling you to do. Aside from your spouse, be obsessively picky when you choose your core team. Who embodies the DNA of the church you want to plant? Who has the passions and gifts that complement your weaknesses? Who would you want beside you for this adventure?

Do you manage your finances well? 

It’s not very exciting, but number crunching is a big part of leading a church. If you can’t manage your own finances, what makes you think you can manage the finances of a church? Church planters receive offerings—money that people have given in order to honor and worship God. We must be able to manage it in a way that glorifies God. Step one is learning how to manage and be generous with our personal finances.

What if you fail?

Failure is a very real possibility. The numbers are staggering proof. Ultimately, church planting is risky and you have to be willing to be a risk-taker. It is important to embrace the reality of possible failure. However, when you are willing to obey even if it means failure, you enter into the reality that there is no failure when you move in obedience to God’s will, even if the people don’t come or the doors close.

How will you measure?

How will you gauge the progress of the mission? How will you know if you are moving in the direction of your Spirit-inspired goals? Counting attendance and counting the offering alone will not give you or your support team a realistic picture of what God is doing in your midst. Consider measuring by things such as salvations, baptisms, discipleship, conversations, community, coats given away, and stories from the lives of real people. However, don’t measure by what someone else is doing. Comparison can steal your joy and undercut your calling. Be true to the story God is writing through you.

Next Steps

If you are interested in taking the next step in considering church planting, visit the website of the Center for Church Multiplication at Asbury Theological Seminary and take this free Church Multiplication EQ Assessment to help you discern your readiness for church planting.