If you know me, you’re probably surprised by this title. I’m not generally a big proponent of systematic theology or theological hairsplitting. My eschatology can be summed up with “Jesus is coming back,” because that’s about all I know for sure.

However, I do believe that church planters need a practical theology that they have really thought through. Church is theology lived out. Beliefs translate to actions; actions translate to identity. What we believe directly informs what kind of church we plant. Sometimes we say we believe something, but what we actually believe is different. Actual beliefs are reflected in how we live. For this reason, we need to go back to the beginning and think through what God is really asking of us as church planters and reflect on what we really believe about God, community, and the church.

Let’s say a planter believes strongly in the capacity of each believer to hear from the Holy Spirit. That will impact how decision-making is done in the church, the amount of personal freedom there is to choose different ministry avenues, and the whole area of vision and vision-casting. Maybe one church planter believes very strongly in a certain form of baptism, but is more open on how the Spirit works regarding certain gifts. Maybe it’s vice versa. The planter’s beliefs on these things will impact what your church ends up looking like, and what it does and doesn’t do.

Take some time to think through your theology, because it will become lived out—for better or worse—in your church plant.