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July 8, 2017

5 Steps for Leading Yourself as a Church Planter

By Dustin Neeley

There are many resources provided to Christian pastors that instruct how to lead your church well or lead your family well. However, there seems to be a lack of advice when it comes to leading yourself well. If you’re not leading yourself well, you can’t lead your family or church well. Here are five steps to help lead yourself better as a church planter.

1. Don’t neglect your own personal spirituality

Many times pastors are consumed with worrying about other people’s faith. They are worried about if their church is evangelizing or spending time with the Lord. It is not often that pastors stop to think about their own spirituality. When was the last time you had an intimate moment with Jesus when you were in prayer or reading the Bible? When was the last time you felt like He was speaking to you personally? As pastors, we can’t let our own personal spirituality take the backseat. In order for us to do our jobs well, we need to be having those intimate moments with the Lord. We can’t assume that our spirituality will take care of itself because we are taking care of others. Our relationship with God is crucial to leading ourselves, and, in turn, leading others. It begins with our own walk with Jesus.

2. Manage your time, as well as your energy

It’s not just about getting things done but getting things done well. Responsibilities as a church planter seem limitless, so it is important to know where you draw your energy from to be most productive. Do you know how you are wired? When do you produce your best work? Are you most productive in the mornings or at night? Learn to manage your time and maximize the hours that you are most productive. Manage your time but also your energy to do what you need to get done, at the right time. This will help your productivity as well as your creativity.

3. Learn to redeem the time

In the ministry world, a lot of our time is filled with meetings. When you’re running from place to place, from person to person, you find yourself waiting on people. When people are running late to meet you for a meeting, don’t let that time go to waste. Redeem that time. Always have work with you and work while you wait. Whether you bring a book, tablet, or smartphone, have work related business with you so that you can make up for some of the time that could go to waste.

If you’re traveling a lot to meetings or drive from place to place, redeem your travel time. Listen to a podcast or Scripture as you drive. Learn to be intentional about your time.

4. Take inventory

Take some time to work in your church before you work on your church. Make a to-do list, separating the responsibilities you are a part of. Then divide those responsibilities into three sections: a delegate section, a stop doing section, and an evaluation section. Consider getting some things off your plate so that you can excel at the things you have to do. Follow up on the things you delegate to others. By delegating, you are allowing others to use their gifts and talents to fulfill tasks.

5. Take advantage of your unique schedule

It is a good thing that you don’t have to clock in and clock out. Take advantage of the time you can spend with your kids when you’re home. Give your wife some time off during the day to do what she wants to do, and spend that time at home for a couple of hours. Have a system, put the time in, and do the work that God wants you to do.

The most important person that you lead in your church plant is yourself. If you lead yourself well first, you will be able to lead others well second.


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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