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Church Planting: Just Another Ministry Opportunity? | Part 1: Sober Assessment

Blog: Church Planting Part 1

Part 1: Sober Assessment

It was during my first year of seminary that I had lunch with a denominational director of church planting. I foolishly assumed he took me to lunch to recruit me. He wisely used the time at lunch to help me not think of myself more highly than I ought to think, “but to think with sober judgment” (Romans 12:3).

Early in the conversation he said, “Tell me about some of the things you’ve successfully started.”

“That’s a stupid question,” I thought. “Why not ask me about my preaching skills? Why not ask me about the small groups I’ve lead, the theological papers I’ve written, the ways I’ve engaged my unbelieving neighbors with the gospel?”

As I consider that conversation now, I recognize the wisdom in his question. He wasn’t trying to vet me for pastoral ministry. Though that was important, he knew that would come at another time. Instead, he was trying to help determine my fit for church planting. The starting new things question was an important question to consider.

He knew what I had yet to grasp: Church planting isn’t just another ministry opportunity. It isn’t an internship, a résumé-builder, or something I should use simply to test out the ways I thought God had gifted me.

It is a specific calling from God to serve Christ’s church—his blood-bought possession—in a very specific way. It’s a high calling—as are many callings to specific service in Jesus’ church.

The question I thought was stupid was actually wise. It was a way of helping me soberly assess how God had gifted me for service in his church. If I was to plant a church, I needed more than simply desire. I needed a specific gift set, one that God doesn’t give to every pastor. 

Reflecting on things I had successfully started provided further encouragement to seriously consider the call to church planting. If I couldn’t think of things I hadn’t successfully started, I probably needed to consider a call to another type of pastoral ministry.




Elliot Grudem is the network coordinator for the Acts 29 Network and a pastor at Mars Hill Church. Prior to his work with Acts 29, Elliot served as the senior minister at Christ the King Presbyterian Church, a church he replanted in Raleigh, NC. He has worked for an urban ministry in New Orleans. He worked for a Fortune 100 company prior to seminary. He is the editor of Christian Beliefs, a book he completed with his father Wayne. Elliot holds degrees from Miami Univeristy (BA, History and English) and Reformed Theological Seminary (M.Div.).