Church planting is not intended to be a means of collecting people who are already Christians and rearranging them. It’s a means of reaching out to people who need and want to know more about Jesus and bringing them in. Therefore, it only makes sense that one of the core competencies of an effective church planter is “reaching the unchurched.” Dr. Ridley, developer of the church planter profile, has called this role that of a “fisherman.” Maybe we can update it now to “fisherperson.” But that’s what a planter does: fishes for people. That’s how Jesus called Peter, on whom he later built his church: “Come follow me and I will send you out to fish for people” (Matthew 4:18-20 with context).

Fishing for the Unchurched 101

We are to connect with and influence people toward a closer relationship with Christ and the church. Here’s how:

  • Build intentional relationships with non-Christians
  • Help non-Christians progress in their understanding of the gospel
  • Lead unchurched people to commit their life to Christ
  • Assimilate new Christians into the church
  • Relate with sensitivity to the unchurched without compromising
  • Equip other Christians to reach the unchurched

Fishing 102

This role of a fisherperson is not just about building relationships and hanging out—although that is part of it. It’s also about building bridges from those relationships into discipleship. We are to share our lives, our time, our relationships, our stories, and our faith, for the gospel is expressed in both word and deed. “Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well” (I Thessalonians 2:8).

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. You will find wisdom, systems, and processes that can help you launch well as well as sustain your unique vision and call within the pages of The Church Planting JourneyNOW AVAILABLE FOR KINDLE!

The Church Planter Assessment- Are you thinking about church planting or 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

The Discipleship Difference- This book lays out an intentional, holistic, and relational approach to discipleship that is individualized to meet each person wherever they are.

Guide for Discipling- Take the next step closer to Jesus and bring others along on the journey. Each section of this discipleship study is packed with scripture and questions designed to inspire thoughtful reflection on your relationship with God and how it spreads into daily life.  Click here for a FREE Overview.