When we talk about the church planting process, we often think about the various developmental stages: getting the core team gathered, starting groups, launching a worship service, etc. But there are certain core behavioral activities that all church planters need to be engaging throughout the full process, no matter what stage they’re in.
Here are the seven essential activities of a church planter:
Praying and expecting: Prayer is not preparation for the ministry, it is the work of the ministry. The planting of a new church is the supernatural work of the Spirit of God. Dependence on God at every stage is essential for discernment and implementation.
Visionizing and strategizing: A church planter without a clear vision and a strategy for how to see that vision accomplished is like a driver without a destination or a map. Visionizing is much more than just dreaming. It means seeking the heart of God for your church and taking the next appropriate steps to move toward the vision.
Evangelizing and gathering: A passion to see the harvest gathered marks the heart of a church planter. Compassion for the lost, coupled with action to reach them in culturally appropriate ways, will result in the expansion of the Kingdom.
Shepherding and building community: Small groups will serve as the primary vehicle for basic Christian community and pastoral care. Solid spiritual growth, both individually and corporately, can take place only through authentic, loving relationships where people are known.
Training and multiplying: A church can only grow as large as its leadership base. As the church begins to expand, cultivating and developing leaders will be one of the primary responsibilities of the church planter. A strong leadership base results in healthy disciples, groups, and churches.
Assembling and celebrating: The worship gatherings of a church are one of the ways we can experience the life of the Spirit. This arena can be used to help people respond to God and to connect with others. It’s a time to share the vision together, and also serves as another door into the church for newcomers.
Leading and managing: As the church grows, the planter needs to shift gears and adjust the leadership style to maintain momentum. Healthy organizational development requires right-sized systems for each stage of growth.
These essential activities will look different in different stages of a church plant, but they are threads that should be moving through everything. You’re always doing a little of each of these seven things; the relevant question is what’s the unique expression of it right now.