Leaders call for your help in securing the next generation of USMB church planters
By Don Morris
Over the next 10 years, USMB intends to plant 60 new churches. Achieving this goal will require finding and training skilled church planters. Mission USA Director Don Morris is soliciting your help in the search.
Effective church planters are like artists. When you gaze on a painting that explodes with color and detail, you know a gifted artist is the creator. While the truly great artists like Monet and Van Gogh are rare indeed, there are plenty of extraordinary artists whose works amaze and bring joy. In a sea of aspiring artists, only a few capture the eye with their startling compositions.
So what does a good artist have in common with a good church planter? They share quite a lot actually. Both are uniquely gifted. Both are skilled at creating something that didn’t exist before—for the artist a painting, for the planter a church.
Both can envision what the final product will look like even before they start their work on the “canvas.” Both spend hours thinking, dreaming and planning before they dare begin. Both are good at mixing things. The artist works with colors on a palette, and the planter looks for the right mix of team volunteers. Both feel a sense of calling to what they do and are drawn to it.
Searching for the hard to find
Artists and church planters—the really good ones, the ones who create great works—are not easy to find. Some artists are “discovered” at art fairs or in online galleries by patrons looking for outstanding artwork. Other artists display their work in shops that cater to local talent, often in communities that are popular vacation sites. There are a lot of venues available for locating a gifted artist. But that doesn’t make finding a talented artist all that easy. One still has to search intently.
As director of Mission USA, I enjoy my task of looking for great church planters. Our vision is to help plant, in partnership with our districts, six new USMB churches every year for the next 10 years. If that goal is to be realized, we need to find a lot of gifted church planters. And it’s going to take a united effort from many dedicated people all across the U.S. to help us discover those gifted by God for church planting.
I believe the main task God has set before us is introducing people to Jesus Christ. We know that church planting is the most effective means we have of acquainting others with the transformation that only Jesus Christ can bring. And so finding gifted church planters is imperative.
Some of these planters will be skilled at beginning a new church, perhaps as a daughter church of an existing Mennonite Brethren church. Some may work better as a campus pastor of a multisite church planting movement. God will help us determine a planter’s best fit.
Since we need a multitude of gifted planters, I’m asking for a collective effort from people from all USMB churches to be on the lookout for people who may have the necessary gifts to plant churches. And I’m asking the Lord to help us discern these gifted leaders. Jesus said, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:24).
The Lord can use all of us to be a part of this discernment process and to help fulfill the mission God has given us. All of us can pray. Many of us can take the next step and tap the shoulders of gifted people. Some of us may be among those tapped to be church planters.
What to look for
Specifically, I invite you to join me in the search for skilled church planters. It is difficult to look at a leader and determine whether their God-given gift mix is conducive to being a church planter. We don’t know what to look for. So think of what follows as a summary of Finding Church Planters 101.
Those of us involved in USMB church planting find Charles Ridley’s research to be very helpful in identifying people with the necessary skills to plant churches. Ridley, a professor at Texas A&M University, has developed a well-known list of 13 church planter requirements. The top six of his 13 requirements are known as the “knock-out list.” In other words, if a leader does not have these six characteristics, then they will likely fail as a church planter.Visioning capacity: believing in God for the impossible, a vision-caster
Intrinsically motivated: a self-starter, high energy, persistent, can build from scratch
Creates ownership of ministry: helps people buy-in, creates commitment and teams
Relates well with the unchurched: breaks through barriers, transparent, personable
Spousal cooperation: spouse is fully committed to planting, family remains a priority
Effectively builds relationships: displays compassion, burden for the lost, evangelist
Now you know what to look for: A gifted leader who has the ability to cast the vision God has given so that others can grasp it. Someone who has a lot of energy, isn’t afraid of hard work and can build something from scratch. One who helps others that are a part of the church plant to develop ownership for themselves. Someone who knows how to talk with the average person and isn’t afraid to talk openly about faith. It’s a leader who has the full commitment of his spouse, while remembering that his family remains his most important mission.
And, a leader who doesn’t just talk a good game but builds relationships well, especially with those who don’t know Jesus yet.
So, will you help us discern gifted planters? Will you pray for this huge vision of planting 60 MB churches in the next 10 years? Can you imagine the impact we will have on 60 communities in the name of Jesus? Can you envision people standing before the throne of God in eternity, knowing that they are there because we dared to dream God-sized dreams? Thank you for searching.
Don Morris is the director of Mission USA, the USMB church planting and renewal ministry.