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Training to be a Church Planter

Bob Thune, Lead Pastor of Coram Deo Church Community in Omaha, NE

Not every church plant has a boxing bag as part of their office furniture. Our church was kind of odd that way.

My cousin J.D. – now an Acts 29 church planter in South Africa – was a volunteer intern on our launch team. He was also an amateur boxer who was training to compete in the Golden Gloves tournament. During his lunch breaks, he’d strap on the boxing gloves and go a few rounds with the body bag in the back corner of our borrowed office space.

Watching J.D. train taught me an important lesson: vision and training go hand-in-hand. You begin with a vision of the kind of person you want to become. And then you train with that goal in mind. J.D. wanted to be a successful boxer, so he put in the time and work to get himself there. One day I walked in and observed J.D. jumping rope while another one of our interns whacked him in the stomach every few seconds with a piece of PVC pipe. “Deadens the nerve endings,” he explained. “So I won’t feel the body blows.”

Church planting is a lot like boxing. Aspiring church planters who fail to train adequately are setting themselves up for an early knockout.

Most wannabe church planters are visionaries. They live in the future. They see what could be. Precious few of them have the wisdom and patience to train well in order to ensure that they become the kind of man whom God can use to bring that vision into existence. If I had a dollar for every vision document sent to me from some starry-eyed church planter, I’d be rich. But if you only paid me for the ones that actually materialized, I’d be homeless.

It’s God who calls men to plant new churches. And it’s God who requires men to meet biblical requirements for character and competency before they qualify for church leadership (1 Timothy 3; Titus 1). So if God has called you to church planting, don’t assume you’re ready right now. You may need further training. You definitely need wise counsel and coaching.

God doesn’t usually call the qualified; rather, he qualifies the called. That means you’ll probably sense a calling to church planting long before you’re ready to do it.

And that’s where a network like Acts 29 can be immensely helpful. We exist to help assess, train, and develop qualified men to plant gospel-centered, missional churches. We do that in three primary ways.

Acts 29 Boot Camps. Our boot camps are quite simply some of the best training events on the planet.  For two days, you’ll be immersed in teaching, training, and vision-casting to help you investigate your calling to church planting. And you’ll interact with dozens of actual church planters who are “in the trenches” planting churches right now.

Assessment. Acts 29’s assessment process involves a rigorous, full-scale examination of your character, marriage, gifting, experience, and competence against the qualifications outlined in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Statistically, we find that only about half of those who think they should plant a church actually meet the qualifications to do so. We won’t massage your ego. We’ll tell you what you really need to hear. You and your wife will be loved, cared for, and challenged by an assessment team of A29 planters who have been through this process themselves.

Coaching and Training. If you get the “green light” to go forward as an Acts 29 Network church planter, you’ll have access to ongoing coaching and training using the most gospel-rich ministry coaching system in existence. Through both formal coaching and informal networking, you’ll be equipped with the tools you need to succeed in the trials and challenges of church planting.

The next Acts 29 boot camp takes place September 15-16 in Chicago. Whether you’re an aspiring church planter, a maybe-someday church planter, or just a Christian leader seeking to better understand the dynamics of church planting, we want you to join us for two days of intense training and development. 

If you want to be a successful boxer, you train hard. And if you want to be a successful church planter and missional leader, you should train even harder.

For bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come (1 Timothy 4:8).


Justin Dean

on Aug 29, 2011 :: 8:27 am

Great Post Brother!

Tony Cruz

on Aug 31, 2011 :: 3:31 pm

I love that you highlight vision with training. When I became a new Christian, I was taught that all you needed was vision and God would take care of the rest. I know that's not entirely true. I need to train my butt off as well. It won't equal success or effectiveness, but it's what I'm called to.


Bob Thune is the lead pastor of Coram Deo Church in Omaha, Nebraska, which he planted in 2005. He is also the co-author of The Gospel-Centered Life, a gospel-driven small-group curriculum that has sold over 40,000 copies and helped Christians all over the world understand the centrality of the gospel in all of life.