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Over the last several weeks we’ve outlined the definition of “calling” we use in assessing church planters (Post 1, Post 2).  This week we’ll wrap up our discussion by looking at the final part of our definition:

Accompanied by appropriate spiritual gifts, recognized by mature church leadership and characterized by an urgency that leads one to bypass other worthy endeavors so as to accomplish the goal.

Appropriate gifts

Church planters must possess certain gifts and competencies,  the first of which are the qualifications of an elder listed in the New Testament (1 Timothy 3, Titus 2, 1 Peter 5). These qualifications are required of any leader of the church and thus are necessary for any church planter.  In addition to the qualifications of an elder, planters must possess a high level of competency in areas like leadership and preaching.

So one of the best ways to discern your calling to church planting is to understand the gifts that God has given you.  For example, I’m confident that I’m not called to be a worship pastor (and if you heard me sing you would be too) because God hasn’t given me the necessary gifts.  So by understanding your gifts you can understand your calling. Your pastors are in the best position to recognize and affirm your gifts.  They’ve seen you live and lead for years and have a more thorough understanding of your character and competencies than almost anyone else.  This is one of the reasons that we place such a strong emphasis on recommendations from a  man’s sending church in our assessment process.  

A called man is a burdened man.

We talk to leaders all the time who have a God honoring desire to make disciples.  They long to see the Gospel advance and for the church to fulfill it’s mission on earth.  We thank God for these leaders. But what we’ve found is that a called man must have more than just a desire to make disciples.  He must have a burden to make disciples through church planting.  This burden manifests itself when other worthy discipleship opportunities present themselves.

You see a called man affirms the importance of the established church and is grateful for the work of seminary professors and para-church ministries.  But none of these opportunities captivate him like church planting.  A called man is willing to walk away from  worthy opportunities to pursue planting.  As Spurgeon wrote:

This desire (calling) must be a thoughtful one…. It must continue with us when tempting offers of wealth and comfort come into conflict with it, and remain as a calm, clear-headed resolve after everything has been estimated at its right figure, and the cost thoroughly counted

What’s Next?

Our hope is that this definition of “Calling”  has helped you work through what God is leading you to give your life to.  Every follower of Jesus is called to make disciples and certain men are called to do that by planting churches.  If after praying through our definition you believe God is leading you to church planting we’d love to be in touch.  Visit our PLANT page to learn about next steps.


Josh Miller (@joshmiller0604) is a Church Planting Catalyst with The Summit Network and a Church Planting Pastor at The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.