I have been coaching Church Planters full time since 2000. During the first years, I developed Gospel Coaching and the C.R.O.S.S. Coaching conversation so that I could remind each Planter of the importance of the Gospel in planting a Christ-centered, missionally engaged church.
I’ve found that there are about 10 key dimensions to every Church Planter, whether planting in a major urban USA city, a growing suburb, mercy neighborhood, or in a city in Cuba. Every Church Planter can and should be aware of these keys so that they can stay on top of the their game. Ok, I know this is not a game, but you get the idea.
This is your calling, but it is also your craft, and you’d better stay focused. No matter how simple you want church planting to be in your life, it is complex. But, no matter how complex it gets, there is a great degree of simplicity to it.
In the Church Leader Inventory (the assessing tool we operate and use in all our coaching and assessing), the First Dimension, among the ten church planter leadership dimensions, is Integrity.
The folks that did the research said Integrity was the most important because, I think, they knew character makes up for skill deficiency, but powerful skills will never make up for weak character.
First, we focus on inner heart qualities. Not because people will follow you and you will grow a big church. People do follow men with deep inner strength and they will listen to someone who has both feet firmly planted. But we should be leaders with strong inner heart character because that is what the Gospel is doing in and through us.
One passage that stands out is one we rarely use in talking about leadership. It is usually saved for weddings and Valentine’s cards. Paul came right after the leaders in Corinth, a strong, cosmopolitan city, with huge business and entertainment industries and said, basically, “I do not care how successful you are, how important your title, now miraculous your skills in teaching, preaching and leadership, if you are harsh, hard, irritable, driving, angry, unforgiving, self absorbed, not caring for others, you not only have nothing, you are nothing.”
In fact, he suggests, you have wasted your life. Wow! That is how essential character is to your leadership in a Gospel-centered church.
The Second Dimension for remaining at the top of your game is by Stewarding Your Time. Remember, even though we are in the people business, people are time consumers. If you fail to use your time wisely, someone will use it for you.
As I wrote in the Church Planter Field Manual: Exploring, “Stewardship of time seems to be one of the more difficult areas of the church planter’s life. Time must be a servant to the calling of your life. Traditional time management theory suggests that by doing things more efficiently, you’ll eventually gain control of your life and that increased control will bring personal fulfillment. But increased efficiency does not necessarily help facilitate the objectives that lead to the fulfilling of your calling… Getting your life more scheduled to attain your personal goals won’t deal with what is driving your life/heart. You are doing what you want to do. For many Church Planters, it's that the church succeed.”
The use of your time indicates what your heart values. No, I do not mean that you live a linear, hierarchical list of priorities, e.g. God is first, Family second, work third, church fourth, and yourself last. Life does not live that way.
Jesus was asked, “What is the most important thing God wants of us?”
His answer, “Love God with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself.”
Later he provided a “qualitater” to the second, “Love your neighbor as I have loved you.”
They are not in competition. They are conjoined. As I love my wife, as Christ loved me, I am loving God. As I serve the poor, or fulfill my God calling, I am loving God. When I love God by giving generously to the church, I am loving my neighbor. Even in time, love is the central motivating factor.
Having Integrity and Stewarding Your Time are the first two of the 10 key dimensions for keeping you at the top of your church planting game.
If you’d like to learn more about these topics, download your FREE eBook “Time Management.” This eBook includes an Evaluation so you can score how well you’re spending your time.
You can also download the full chapter “Time Management for Church Planters” eBook for just $5 TODAY.
Remember: You don’t have to plant a church alone.
At CMM, we believe every pastor, church planter, ministry leader, and missionary is created to thrive in ministry. We suggest getting a CMM Gospel Coach to help walk with you through the challenges you’ve never faced before.
Dr. Tom Wood
I've been in the Church Planting business my entire career. I want you to know, you don't have to plant a church alone!