In the New Testament it is clear that there are particular character traits that it is essential for church leaders to possess. Best know amongst these are the qualifications for elders that are outlined in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. Though the role of a church planter is technically distinct from that of an elder, it is functionally very similar, and the same requirements of godly character apply, so part of assessing whether you are called to plant a church is to look at how your life holds up against these requirements (and this is definitely an exercise to do with a leader who knows you well, and will be able to see and point out any blind spots that you may have!)
Another passage that has been strongly impressed on my heart recently is 2 Corinthians 6:5-6 where Paul outlines the characteristics of his ministry in Corinth (and, presumably, elsewhere). “As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance… by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech and the power of God.”
As I consider this list, I am struck by the breadth of qualities that Paul was able to bring to his planting. There are things about his own personal walk with God (purity) and there are things about how he is able to interact with others (patience and kindness). He was strong in his theology (knowledge) and also strong in the supernatural (the Holy Spirit and the power of God). He was able to handle difficulties that arose (endurance) and could approach pastoral situations with both genuine love and truthful speech.
As broad (and potentially overwhelming) as this description of Paul’s ministry is, I can’t find a single trait on the list that a church planter can do without, and honest reflection on your life in light of these verses can be very helpful in determining whether you should plant a church.
Again, depending on your answer to the question of whether you are qualified, there are some things you should consider.
- If You Are Qualified – This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should plant (you may be called to another ministry), but it is a great starting point! If some of the other questions also seem to point towards planting, then you would be well set to give it a go.
- If You Are Not Qualified – Leading a church plant right now is not the right thing to do if you don’t meet the Biblical criteria for leadership. This is not to say that you never will be qualified. If you aspire to church planting (or other leadership positions) try to gain insight from those you trust about where you fall short of the qualifications and look to grow in these areas. Depending on your current level of maturity, being part of a church plant led by somebody else may be a good place to grow and help you gain valuable experience for if/when you are ready to plant in the future.