Home > Blog > Why Can't Planters Be Pastors? [Part 3]

May 23, 2017

Why Can't Planters Be Pastors? [Part 3]

By Derek Hanna

If you missed them, you can view Part 1 and Part 2. Today we’re picking up with five practical tips for planters.

First, get the mission.

This is a no-brainer, but if there’s no clarity about the mission of the church, then the rest is going to be about as much use as a knitted light bulb. If we’re not convinced that the church is on a mission to be matured in Christ and to call others into that fellowship, no matter what role we play in the church, we’re starting from the wrong spot.
And the person who needs to be on the frontlines in the Christian community is the pastoral-counselor-and-trouble-shooter-in-chief, the pastor.

If planters are going to do pastoral leadership well, they need to have such clarity about their mission that no matter whether they’re paid or not, have authority or not, it’s this truth that shapes how they see and interpret what’s happening around them and informs how and where they expend their time and energy.

Second, acknowledge your role.

For me, and while I often fell short in so many ways, I wanted to ask myself the question: what is it going to look like for me to mature and mobilize God’s people for mission? That’s what I felt my role was in the body. And I tried to let it inform everything I did: How will I spend my days? What will my diary reflect? What are my priorities now? What will need to change when the church grows to its next stage? Who will I meet with and who won’t I meet with?

These aren’t easy questions, but for those who are planting, and particularly for churches that are growing, they are questions that need to be asked and examined regularly as different seasons and challenges are encountered within the church. If our definition of the role does not cope with growth, then we are the inhibitor to growth. We need to get clarity on our role.

Third, communicate that role.

It’s not good enough for us to understand our role. We need to take those we lead along that journey as well. Everyone in the church comes with their own baggage as to what the leader should be doing. So until we understand our role as planters/pastors, we’re not going to be able to help them think through that role, and we’ll either be crushed under the weight of their expectations or their disappointment. Or we’ll just shut up shop and enjoy the atmosphere of stagnation.

We want to communicate our role. Not to prop-up our own importance, but to further the church’s mission. And this is particularly important for leaders as churches transition through growth barriers and the “relational distance” of the pastor becomes greater to those who had access to them before and the community experiences the changing dynamics of growth.

We need to learn to love seeing ministry happen more than we love doing the things that we might love in ministry. And we need to help others see that while we love one-to-one Bible reading and pastoral visits, if we are to pursue the mission of the church, our role is (amongst other things) to mobilize others to do these things. It’s not good enough for us to understand our role. We must paint that picture for those we lead in light of the mission we pursue.

Fourth, understand that our role will change in different seasons and that’s ok.

One of the clear implications is that we need to grapple with the truth that our role will look different at different stages of growth and require different skills and focuses in different seasons of planting and re-planting.

And if we have a more robust view of our role in pastoral leadership, then we will more easily adapt and transition between these stages. We will equally see the networking and gathering of a launch team, the imparting of vision and equipping for mission in the launch phase, the structural and administrative aspects of working through the 80-100 barrier, and the vision-casting and leadership development required of moving toward a multi-site church–all as equal expressions of our role as shepherd, elder, and overseer. One role is not less than another, but each an expression of the same biblical role to see God’s people matured and mobilized toward mission.

Fifth, always bring it back to the Word.

I finish with this point because we’re going to make mistakes. We’re not CEOs and we’re not running a business, even while there are aspects of pastoral leadership that look similar. We are led and shaped by God’s Word. And at every stage, at every place in our leadership, at every barrier, roadblock, or setback that we might encounter, what we want to come back to is God’s Word.

When we start meetings, when we ask for direction, when we speak of vision and mission, when we mourn at loss, when we admit mistakes, and in all of the situations a planter and pastor will find themselves, it is God’s Word that we want to begin and end with.


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.


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