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  • Writer's pictureTommy Duke

Keys to Becoming a Successful Church Planter (Part 1)

Are you willing to take Jesus at His word when He said you have not because you ask not? What if that's the one thing holding you back?

I’ve had the privilege of being involved in church planting in one form or another (from preacher’s kid to lead planter to church planter coach) for well over half of my lifetime, and one of my greatest joys has been the opportunity to train hundreds of planters over the last few years.

Along the way, I’ve developed a keen eye to be on the lookout for successful church planters. Keep in mind that only God knows people’s hearts (1 Samuel 16:7), but more often than not after a little time together I can get a pretty good idea about how successful a church planter is going to be.

And for the sake of this topic, let’s define success as cooperating most fully with God to see maximum Kingdom results through your new church plant – lives transformed through Jesus Christ.

There are almost always a few “winners” around when a group is gathered, although not necessarily the planters you might think.  For example, I can’t identify your church plant’s future success by your…

  • Worship style

  • Clothes

  • Brand of theology

  • Ethnicity

  • Geographic location

  • Or any other visible differences

No, the keys to whether or not your new church will be successful are a little harder to find, but they are vitally important for a number of reasons. These keys only reveal themselves during the course of conversation.

The first key to becoming a successful church planter is that you must be (or be willing to become) a “master asker.”  It’s a bit of an odd phrase, but one that you hopefully won’t forget, and here’s the idea…

As a church planter and throughout the life of your new church, you’ll need to constantly develop and improve your skills at asking.

Successful Church Planters will master the skills to ask for…

  • Prayer – You need to ask those closest to you and those who care about you and your target area to be praying for your new church and those who will be reached through it.

  • Funding – You must be able to clearly and compellingly ask pastors, denominational leaders and even individuals to invest their limited Kingdom funds in your not-yet-existent church plant.

  • Someone to Lead Worship – My good friend and mentor, Nelson Searcy, has identified that the ability to raise funds and to enlist a quality worship leader are two of the most important success factors of any church planters.  I firmly agree.

  • Volunteers – Throughout your tenure as a planter and pastor, you’ll be sharing with people the awesome opportunity of serving in the local church.  Now’s the time to learn how to properly and effectively ask them (or prayerfully reconsider your calling).

  • Unchurched Attendees – Let’s face it, you’re planting a church to reach out to people who aren’t currently being reached. You need to research your community, pray about creative ways to reach them and talk to other pastors who’ve gone before you, but you’d better make it a point to get out into the community, meet your neighbors and develop the skills (and the boldness) to ask them to attend your new church!

  • Commitments to Christ – Don’t lose sight of the fact that we’re planting churches to fulfill the Great Commission – therefore, you need to continue honing your skills at presenting the gospel and asking people to respond.

  • And on and on and on…

But the point is clear: Success in church planting (and later in pastoring a healthy, growing church) requires that a leader become a Master Asker.

The best news I have for you today is that you CAN develop your asking skills.  It’s not one of those things you’re either born with or not – in fact, I love to watch called, passionate church planters in my coaching networks transform from "timid Tom" to Master Asker status, simply by developing those "asking muscles" and learning to more fully trust and live by the Holy Spirit's leadership.

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