by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.
From a personnel perspective, the lead pastor of the new team is the main key to a successful planting. He should be called by God to one of the fivefold ministries (usually pastor, but perhaps one of the other fivefold offices) —
The team-leading pastor must be called not just to lead a church, but to plant a church as a pioneer. There are many fine ministers of the Gospel who do an excellent job pastoring a church. But not all ministers have a call and a God-given ability to be a pioneering planter. For example, the apostle Paul understood God’s call on him to plant churches, and he did so almost everywhere he went — “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow” (1 Corinthians 3:6). I have planted two churches in the USA, one in New York and one in Oregon. I can assure you by experience and from my acquaintance with hundreds of other ministers, that there is a special Holy Spirit call and anointing on some to plant churches. By no means do all pastors have that call to plant, and it is important that local church leaders help them determine the answer to this question: Has God called you to pastor? Or has God called you specifically to be a pioneering, church-planting pastor? There is a difference. More God-called pastors are in the first group than in the second group.
Prepare your hearts to send from your churches not just willing men to lead church-planting teams, but willing men of the highest quality. Remember, as we saw above, the Antioch church sent Barnabas and Paul!
The pioneering pastor/team leader must be fully qualified according to 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. These are mandatory qualifications: “An overseer, then, must be…” (1 Timothy 3:2, NASB). It is almost a certainty that later you will deeply regret it if you send an unqualified team leader.
The church planter will most likely be the most visible representation of the new church’s ministry to the community in which the church is planted. Therefore, he must be a man of impeccable character.
1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, mentioned above, list many necessary character traits. Our experience in sending teams has shown some other important qualities of a church planter:
The sending church should ensure that the church-planting pastor has ministry skills such as:
If possible, put him through some intern pastor training time in your church before sending him and the team out. Even a simple, locally-designed program can be very effective. Basically, give him “hands-on” exposure to the varied ministry activities of your local church.
Luke 10:2 tells us that Jesus wants to “send out workers [plural!] into his harvest field.” He said that the “harvest is plentiful.” Therefore He desires to send many laborers forth to do His Great Commission work.
God will specifically call certain individuals and families to be sent forth on church-planting teams. He will touch their hearts to embrace this calling. God is very capable of touching people’s hearts with a desire to follow His plan. For example — [Israel’s new king] “Saul also went home to Gibeah; and the brave men whose hearts God had touched went with him” (1 Samuel 10:26, Amplified Bible). A good team doesn’t just need bodies. What the Lord wants is men and women who respond to the call of God and His touch upon their hearts to go forth.
Team members don’t need to be called to an Ephesians 4:11 “fivefold” ministry. But they must sense a call to serve with their whatever abilities God has given them (1 Peter 4:10). And, like the team leader, they should sense a call from the Lord to pioneer, to go and plant. I can say by my own experience of planting two churches, there are many hardships that the team will experience in moving to plant a church — things such as finding housing, finding a new job, etc. So they must know that the Lord has truly called them.
Remember, Jesus is sowing His people into the world as “good seed” (Matthew 13:37-38). Team members must be men and women of exceptional character.
Ephesians 4:12 (KJV) charges the church’s fivefold ministry with “the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry.” Good team members, before being sent out, should have submitted themselves faithfully to the equipping and training provided by the ministry staff of the church. And they should have demonstrated a willingness to give themselves to “the work” of the ministry. If someone is lazy in your church, or unfaithful to church services, don’t send them out on a team!
Our experience of sending many dozens of church-planting teams from our local church in Alaska has taught us that good team members will have many, hopefully all, of the following qualities:
In Part Two I spoke of how your church can be both a ministry-training and church-planting center. You can start your own in-church bible school. If you feel that you need additional help in training and sending teams to plant churches, I recommend to you the outstanding ministry training curriculum of the International School of Ministry (ISOM). This excellent, Spirit-filled, biblically-based video teaching as of 2015 had over 17,000 schools in more than 75 languages and in 146 nations of the world. For free information on how this video curriculum might be a blessing to your ministry training efforts, please click ISOM. [Full disclosure: I receive no financial benefit from ISOM]
We have now completed Part Four, “Identifying Church-Planting Teams in the Local Church.” Please continue on by clicking our final topic, Part Five below, in our series on Church Planting by Teams.
Part One — An Overview of Church Planting
Part Three — Counseling of Future Ministers in the Local Church
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©2016, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.