Home > Blog > Why Can't Planters Be Pastors? [Part 2]

May 20, 2017

Why Can't Planters Be Pastors? [Part 2]

By Derek Hanna

In my last post I outlined one of the roadblocks planters face: grappling with how we understand the role of a pastor while doing the work required of a planter, and arguing that this pressure can be felt from the heart, from the pews and from the bleachers.

The challenge is, we can speak to planters about the pragmatics of what they need to do, and we can give them the tools and training to launch a growing church…but for planters who love God’s Word, we need to give them more than that. We need them to have – first and foremost – the conviction that not only is the mission biblical, but what they’re doing, and how they’re doing it, is biblical as well.

Pastoral Leadership?

In his article, “Some Reflections on Pastoral Leadership” Don Carson argues that when we consider the words used to describe leaders in the New Testament – overseer / elder / pastor – the one we often skip over the implications of is overseer.

It’s worth reading the whole article to see how he gets there, but he says three things (paraphrased) that are worth noting:

  1. The best pastoral leadership is shaped and drenched by the proclamation and application of God’s Word.
  2. Yet if this is reduced to what we often call “prayer and the ministry of the Word” (study, prayer and preaching – Acts 6:4) then we’ve failed to grasp that a “comprehensive ministry of the Word demands oversight”.
  3. And this oversight, this pastoral leadership, needs to express itself in areas such as (but not limited to) organizing and leading teams, casting vision for growth, mobilizing and equipping the church for outreach, creating and maintaining structures.

I’m sure you see where I’m heading with this. And I’m sure you can see the reason I’m riding on the coat tails of better biblical scholars than myself. Because this discussion is not academic. How we understand the job of pastoral leadership has a direct effect on the fulfillment of the mission we’re called to. As Carson identifies, if this important aspect of pastoral leadership is ignored, the church can drift, systems become half-baked and accidental, leadership pipelines are stunted…which in the end affects the very thing we long to see: people growing in maturity, seeing people won for Christ and more churches planted for the glory of God.

A final word before we get practical

It’s taken a while to clear a bit of ground before I give 5 practical tips for planters and coaches in my final post. No apologies for that. We’re not first and foremost pragmatists. Our first and defining framework is God’s Word and God’s mission. And if we’re fighting an internal battle as we plant (or as we coach planters) as to what the job is and how that understanding shapes what we do, then we’re making a difficult job more difficult…for no biblical reason.


Derek Hanna

Derek grew up and became a Christian in Sydney, Australia. After studying Computer Science and working in London, he decided to do something he was completely unqualified for, but desperately passionate about, and started working for the Church Missionary Society helping churches talk to youth & children about what God was doing throughout the world and how they could be involved. While doing this, he studied theology at Sydney Missionary & Bible College and then headed up to Brisbane, Australia to work in pastoral ministry. Nine years ago he planted Village Church in Brisbane City, and this year started working with Geneva Push, an Australian church planting network, as the Director of Training. He's been married to Jacqueline for 18 years, they've got three boys who bring them joy and worry in equal measure, and they're all part of Christ Community Church in Brisbane, Australia.


view all
The Church Is Not the Building

Exclusive Content

Cultivating Leadership and Outreach [Behind-The-Scenes]
Developing Leadership and Outreach in a Church

Exclusive Content

What Should Church Metrics Be in 2021?

Exclusive Content

Five Ways to Know Your Community

Exclusive Content

Hard Places and Hard Times from CPLF [Ready-to-Use-Resources]