11 Lessons Learned By A Church Planter….For Church Planters


We just finished our first Church Planter Boot Camp at Lifepoint Church. We had Mississippi Planters from Brookhaven, Southaven, Olive Branch, Jackson, Batesville, and Oxford. We had a planter from Memphis, TN. and a team from Las Vegas, Nevada along with several Associational Mission Directors and Pastors who just wanted to hear about Church Planting. The two day camp exceeded all my expectations and the LORD was certainly honored by the teaching of many wonderful Church Planter’s and leaders. I had the last session friday afternoon and after the dust had settled from the intense two days, I shared 11 Lessons Learned In Church Planting.

11 Lessons Learned By A Church Planter….For Church Planters

1. Lead with Passion, NOT Charisma

Passion- an intense desire or enthusiasm for something.
Charisma- compelling attractiveness or charm from a personality that can inspire devotion in others.

There is a great propensity for preachers who are great leaders to lead out of personality. Although God can and does use our personality, we falter when it becomes our leader in leadership. A Spirit filled and soaked life that is from walking with Jesus, results in passion for the King and His Kingdom. Alway’s remember: “Charisma” = flesh, “Passion”= Spirit, walk in the Spirit and lead with Passion.

2. Be a Laborer NOT a Blogger

I was reading the blog of a young Church Planter the other day and he said this, “Pray for my daily work schedule, currently I prepare for my message two day’s a week and I blog two day’s a week.” I really wanted to email my young friend and ask him when he “Pastored”. I am all for spending time on sermon prep, the Word must be a priority; however blogging is a luxury. I am sitting in my chair at my house at 11:23 pm as I write this; my kids are in the bed, I have loved on my wife, and I have served my Church family today. I could not imagine ever meeting any ministry need or being on mission engaging culture if I blogged for two day’s every week.

I was reminded this summer when we took on a family project of planting a small garden how hard cultivating, planting, growing, and harvesting really were. There were many times this summer I thought about how often Jesus referred to the labor of ministry in agricultural and farming terms. Don’t be lazy, labor for the Church, the lost, and the King; if you have any time left over, then write a blog about it.

“Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; ” (Matthew 9:37, ESV)

3. Be Teachable PURSUE Great Leaders

I am amazed how often I encounter young pastors who expect great leaders or pastors they serve under or know to drop everything they are doing and take them on as their apprentice. If you want to be a great Church Planter, find another great Church Planter and walk beside him until he tells you to go home or hires you! Every great leader that has come through my ministry or I had the privilege to mentor, sought me. I latched on to great leaders and pastors when I was young in ministry, and it paid huge dividends.

Sadly, our mentors and leaders have become ten different preachers who write blogs and books, stream teaching videos, and podcast their sermons on the world wide web. You can never be mentored by someone who cannot see your eyes or hear your heart.

“So Moses rose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. ” (Exodus 24:13, ESV)

4. TEACH Ecclesiology (The Doctrine of The Church)

I spent one month teaching on Overseers, Deacons, and Saints out of Philippians 1:1, “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: ” (Philippians 1:1, ESV). Not to mention every other instance I came across Ecclesiology in the text. I am continually amazed at what I “hear” Christians describe as Church membership and the function of deacons and pastors, absolutely shocking sometimes. I will never forget the lady who told me I was wrong, and “deacons” run the Church. You can never over teach Ecclesiology.

1. Teach “Regenerate” membership.
2. Teach “Roles” of Overseers.
3. Teach “Roles” of Deacons.
4. Teach “Responsibility” of Saints.
5. Teach “Responsibility” of Ordinances (Baptism and LORD’S Supper)

“Within evangelicalism today the theology of the church reflects considerable diversity, as it should. Much of this is due to the fact that evangelicalism exists as a transdenominational expression of commitment to personal faith in Jesus Christ. With a high commitment to the doctrine of salvation, evangelicalism has been able to accommodate itself to a variety of forms of church order and discipline. As long as it is assured that there is adherence to the biblical doctrine of eternal salvation, other doctrinal and denominational issues seem less important. Lacking a commonly accepted ecclesiology, however, evangelicalism is marked by individualism in church polity, discipline, and worship. While a central focus on the gospel is commendable, lack of theological orientation weakens the church. The present deemphasis on nearly all major doctrines of the Scriptures has produced an alarming biblical illiteracy. Without a cohesive understanding and acceptance of a biblical ecclesiology, evangelicalism in our postmodern world is generally viewed as one more expression of a fragmented religious scene in an already fragmented culture.” – Charles R. Swindoll and Roy B. Zuck, Understanding Christian Theology (Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003), 1082.


multi: more than one.
vision: “a mental picture of what could be . . . fueled by a passion that it should be.” -Andy Stanley
task: a piece of work to be done or undertaken.

I made the word up so here is my definition: Having a clear mental picture of what could be, fueled by a passion that it should be (vision), bringing unity and creating vision for every ministry/entire Church (multi), which results in equipping the saints and engaging the world (task); OR “Riding a unicycle down the narrow road and through the narrow gate, while juggling vision, ministry, mission, the Kingdom Dream, and family; turning around in amazement seeing you inspired others to follow.”…..Just Kidding, although it seems a little true sometimes.

You have to be a “generalist” in everything and “specialist” in preaching.

6. MODEL Priorities
#1. Your Relationship with Christ
#2. Your Relationship with Your Spouse
#3. Your Relationship with Your Children
#4. Your Relationship with Your Church (Remind Your Congregation, They are 4th, not 1st)

7. LEAD in Accountability, EVERYWHERE!
1. Be accountable with TIME.
2. Be accountable with MONEY.
3. Be accountable with the INTERNET.
4. Be accountable with COUNSELING.

8. Practice These Words: “I am sorry”; “Will you forgive me?”

Too many pastor’s become “angry” authoritarians instead of being “humble” authorities. We must be able to walk humbly and seek forgiveness when we offend, hurt, or let someone down or maybe even when we just need to “take the high-road”.

“The Christian leader must not be dictatorial. “Not lording it over those entrusted to you” (1 Peter 5:3). A domineering manner, an unbridled ambition, an offensive strut, a tyrant’s talk—no attitude could be less fit for one who claims to be a servant of the Son of God. The leader must be clothed “with humility” (1 Peter 5:5). The verb refers to a slave’s tying on a white apron, which gives this verse an added note of meaning. Was Peter recalling the sad night when he refused to take the towel and wash his master’s feet? Would pride keep other leaders from joyful service? Pride ever lurks at the heels of power, but God will not encourage proud men in His service. Rather, He will oppose and obstruct them. But to the undershepherd who is humble and lowly in heart, God will add power and grace to the work. In verse 5, Peter urged leaders to act humbly in relating to others. But in verse 6 he challenges leaders to react humbly to the discipline of God. “Therefore humbly submit to God’s strong hand” is Charles B. Williams’s rendering.“J. Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Leadership : Principles of Excellence for Every Believer, Updated ed.]. (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2007), 49-50.

9. BEWARE: Biblical Authenticity Does Not Look Like the World

“I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. ” (John 17:14–16, ESV)

“The symbolic boundaries which previously defined moral propriety for conservative Protestantism have lost a measure of clarity. Many of the distinctions separating Christian conduct from “worldly conduct” have been challenged if not altogether undermined. Even the words worldly and worldliness have, within a generation, lost most of their traditional meaning.… The traditional meaning of worldliness has indeed lost its relevance for the coming generation of Evangelicals.“ – Evangelicalism: The Coming Generation (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1987), 63.

10. Church Planters INSPIRE!

If you can’t INSPIRE others for Kingdom Ministry, you are not a Church Planter.

”The power of inspiring others to service and sacrifice will mark God’s leader. Such a leader is like a light for others around. Charles Cowman worked hard, but he also possessed the ability to get others to work hard. His zeal and drive—and inspiration—were infectious.
Pastor Hsi was one of the truly great leaders of his time in China. He too possessed this power to an extraordinary degree. A friend commented on Hsi’s inspiring presence: “His power was remarkable. Without any effort, apparently, he seemed to sway everybody. Instinctively people followed and trusted him. He had great power of initiative and enterprise. You could not be with him without gaining a wholly new ideal of Christian life and service.”
Nehemiah had this quality. The people in Jerusalem were utterly disheartened and dispirited when he arrived. In no time he built them into an effective team of workers. Such were his powers that before long we read, “The people had a mind to work” (Nehemiah 4:6 KJV).
General Mark Clark, addressing a class of trainees, said of Winston Churchill: “I doubt if any man in history has ever made such grim utterances, yet given his people such a sense of strength, exuberance, even of cheerfulness.”
When France fell to the German armies and Britain was left alone in the fight, the British cabinet met in their chambers with a sense of deep gloom. When Churchill entered, he looked around at the disconsolate ministers, then said, “Gentlemen, I find this rather inspiring.” Small wonder that he was able to galvanize a nation into effective counterattack.“ – J. Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Leadership : Principles of Excellence for Every Believer, Updated ed.]. (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2007), 72-73.

11. TRUTH Trumps Everything: Learn How to PREACH!

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” ” (Romans 1:16–17, ESV)

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12, ESV)

““For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. ” (Isaiah 55:10–11, ESV)

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. ” (2 Timothy 3:16–17, ESV)

Richard L. Mayhue writes,
Biblical preaching’s authenticity is significantly tarnished by contemporary communicators who are more concerned with personal relevance than with God’s revelation. Scripture unmistakably requires a proclamation focused on God’s will and mankind’s obligation to obey. With men wholly committed to God’s Word, the expository pattern commends itself as preaching that is true to the Bible. Exposition presupposes an exegetical process to extract the God-intended meaning of Scripture and an explanation of that meaning in a contemporary way. The biblical essence and apostolic spirit of expository preaching needs to be recaptured in the training and preaching of men who are freshly committed to “preaching the Word.” John MacArthur, Rediscovering Expository Preaching (Dallas: Word Pub., 1997), 2-3.


About George Ross

I am a pastor, church planter, husband, and father of four.
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