In this blog entry, let’s zero in on one church planter competency: resilience. The official definition from the Church Planter Assessment is: Resilience—stays the course in the face of major setbacks, disappointments, and opposition. Dr. Charles Ridley, organizational psychologist and developer of the church planter profile, calls this competency bounce-back-ability. Personally, I like this term better, but the definition does fill it out a bit more.

Essentially, this competency means that successful church planters have the capacity to bounce-back up when they are knocked down. Church planting will not go smoothly—it’s spiritual warfare and anyone doing it can expect opposition. As a planter, you will face hurts, wounds, major setbacks, attacks on your character or motives, and people opposing you. One question on the planter assessment gets candidates engaging about how they handle those times: “Share with me about a time you had an attack on your character or intent and what you did to come through that.” When you face those times, how do you dig deep, connect with God, and move forward?

A time I needed to bounce-back from…

Considering that question recently, I reflected on a time when in a group setting I was fiercely and viciously attacked over something that wasn’t true. The incident shook me up quite a bit. Afterwards, I talked with my friend Chuck (Dr. Ridley when he’s doing research; Chuck when he has his “friend hat” on.) I was shaken to the core and I wanted his personal and professional perspective on whether there was any truth at all to this charge against my character and motives. Maybe I was just blind to it? After all, there are plenty of times when I have been wrong and have needed to repent or make amends. Yet there are other times you just suffer while doing what God has called you to do. It takes some reflection and perspective to be able to tell the difference.

Chuck counseled that you have to reflect on matters to determine the validity of the feedback. I needed to be open to feedback from a variety of sources, then sort out what’s true from what’s false, embrace what I needed to respond to in order to change in positive ways, and reject what’s unhelpful or false. That’s also when I began to practice praying for those who persecute and blessing those who curse. (Matthew 5:44 and Luke 6:28). When the hurt would come around and I’d feel myself perseverating on it, I’d engage in these practices to bounce-back, turn it around and also to help with my own healing.

We are not alone…

My wife Janet said, “Why don’t you ask God why he allowed you to go through this?” I did, and I sensed him telling me to read 2 Corinthians. I read it all the way through, then asked God again, “So? Why did you allow me to go through this?” He responded, “Well, I’ve called you to be an apostle; it’s time you start suffering like one.” “Thanks,” was my tongue-in-cheek response at the time. But God’s answer to me did help with perspective. It communicated, “You’re not alone.” I reflected on the Apostle Paul’s recounting all of his setbacks, disappointment, and opposition in 2 Corinthians and how he kept going: Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.” (2 Corinthians 4:1 NIV)

He expands on those problems:

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-12 NIV)

Yet he did not lose heart. He bounced-back. He stayed the course. That’s resilience.

More resources…

The Church Planting Journey- This newly released book is a comprehensive guide for the church planter. It is the culmination of experience that includes being a church planter myself, and coaching and consulting church planters for more than 40 years. Within the pages of The Church Planting Journey, you will find wisdom, systems, and processes that can help you launch well as well as sustain your unique vision and call.

The Church Planter Assessment- Whether you are thinking about church planting, are already in the process the Church Planter Behavioral Assessment is a valuable tool. To learn more about how you can be assessed email us at

I also recommend these skills-builders to help with the practical side of some topics that may address areas in which you need to build resilience:

Assertiveness Skills Builder Booklet- Assertive communication involves acquiring a deeper understanding of just what goes on when we interact with others, particularly when an element of conflict is present.

Conflict Resolution Skills Builder Booklet- Conflict in itself is not problematic, however, it can be destructive if it isn’t successfully channeled and resolved. Handled properly, conflict can highlight problems that need to be rectified, lead to new ideas and behavior, enhance communication and foster better long-term relationships between individuals and groups.

Emotional Intelligence Skills Builder Booklet- The more you develop your emotional intelligence skills, the more you are likely to be able to respond appropriately to most situations you encounter.

Change Management Skills Builder Booklet- By demonstrating effective change agent skills, we will be able to lead ourselves, individuals and groups in implementing actions that enable vision to be transformed into reality.

Photo by Brad Barmore on Unsplash