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August 19, 2017

3 Overlooked Qualities of a Successful Church Planter

By Dustin Neeley

There are some qualities that are in the job description of church planting. The church planter should be a qualified minister and have an entrepreneurial mindset. There are also overlooked qualities that are mentioned less often but are very important to becoming a successful church planter.

1. Have an Intimate Walk with Jesus

Just because you are a church pastor, many will assume that you have a close, intimate relationship with Jesus. Maybe you do. However, maybe there are days that you preach out of the Bible so much that you don’t bother to crack it open when you aren’t doing work. Your relationship with Jesus is not something that should be taking the backseat. You need to be making a strong effort every day to fill up on God’s word so that you can do the Lord’s work. If you’re not walking intimately with Jesus, your church planting will suffer. It can often put you in a direction where you are being spiritually drained at work. The attacks from Satan will be stronger. You may start to put your identity into your church plant and think that it’s about you. You also start to think that it’s your responsibility to make the church plant a success. Make sure that you’re doing it for God, and with God.

When you start to think that you’re too busy to spend time reading the Bible, the enemy slowly chips away at your soul. Make your time with God a priority. It may help to make a to-do list every morning and put time with God as the number one thing on that list. Make Him your number one priority. Another helpful strategy to maintain your intimacy with Jesus is to practice the Sabbath. Take one day a week, perhaps the Monday after preaching, to disconnect from work related activities. Vow to not do anything regarding work, and create a church culture that knows and respects that you take one day to really be present with your family. It may also help to get away or get out of town. Go spend time alone with God in nature. Spend time in complete prayer without distractions.

2. Have an accurate assessment of who you are and where you are

It’s crucial to know your strengths and your weaknesses. If you know your strength is in preaching, realize that you may need to hire staff to cover the areas of your weaknesses. A lot of church planters don’t have an accurate assessment of who they are and what their capabilities/limitations are, so they often overestimate their ability to succeed in every area.

It’s also really important to know your season of life. Know exactly what you have on your plate right now, what your limitations are, and know what you can handle. It may not be the right season for you to be investing your time and money into a church plant. That’s an important thing to know before diving in. Know your current season.

You should also know where you are. The location will of your church plant will differ from other people’s church plants. With this, some factors will be different beyond your control. Know what success for you is going to be different than another church planter’s version of success.

3. A successful church planter must be flexible

As a church planter, flexibility is a must. There are going to be so many ideas of what you want something to look like, and it will turn out completely different. It’s critical that you be able to adapt to the new strategy. Assess your own flexibility quotient. Know your flexibility, and look at areas of growth. Find people who master this area well and ask for advice on how to become more flexible.

For more inspiration and direction, read the book of Acts. Acts shows a large need for flexibility and shows ways in which the strategy is adjusted as needed. It’s also important to prepare yourself for the worst. Bad things will happen in your church, but through these things, God will do good.


Dustin Neeley

Dustin Neeley (@dustinneeley) has been in full-time, vocational ministry for nearly 20 years and has been involved in nearly every ministry capacity imaginable. His writing has been featured on well-known websites such as The Gospel Coalition, The Resurgence, Boundless Magazine and Churchleaders.com and his popular church planting video series garnered more than 235,000 views on YouTube and is now featured on LifeWay’s Ministry Grid church training program. In 2005, God called Dustin to be the lead and founding pastor Crossing Church in Louisville, KY. In that decade of faithful service, the church grew to be in the top 11% sized churches in the Southern Baptist Convention and equipped and launched 11 church planters in cities like New Orleans, Cleveland and Salt Lake City, commissioned 6 missionaries and sent out more than 25 senior pastors and staff persons. In early 2015, Jesus called, the Neeley's answered and relocated to the Franklin area to become the Church Planter in Residence at Immanuel Church. Since then, he and his family have loved seeing God miraculously bring Refuge together and are thankful to have had a successful launch in August of 2016.


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