One of the more difficult aspects of church planting comes long before the church is ever planted. It isn’t that the planting of the church is easy, but there is a reality that the actual planting of the church is the outworking of several other processes. Namely, the development of the planter or planting team.
I am not a church planting expert, but I would imagine that there is a connection between the health and development of a planter and planting team, and the health of the church that is being planted.
What I have appreciated about the Saturate Residencies is the strong emphasis placed, not solely on competencies, but on the heart and character of those participating. The content, the reading, the homework, the exercises, and the cohort meetings are all aimed at helping those participating take a sober look at their own hearts and lives and ask the question, “How can I become more like Jesus?”
I have had the privilege in helping give oversight to the Pacific Northwest Regional Residency and have seen this development taking place right before my very eyes.
In one such instance, going through a self-assessment tool helped a prospective planter realize that he and his wife had a proclivity to process decisions in a completely contrary way. And as such, this was leading to various levels of conflict. One spouse was always pressing ahead, feeling like the idea in front of them was the best idea, and the other spouse always felt the need to be on guard, uncertain about the future, and unable to lay down roots for fear of everything changing all over again.
Through a series of self-reflective exercises and readings, this couple realized that they needed to get some outside counsel to help them process and shepherd their hearts. They reached out to an older couple, who had also been through the church planting journey and shared similar characteristics in their own marriage. This mentor couple was able to listen, empathize, and shepherd the couple towards greater unity and understanding in their marriage.
It cannot be overstated how important a process like this is for a prospective church planter and his family.
Oftentimes when we are evaluating potential church planters, we consider things like: Can they preach?, What kind of leadership capacity do they have?, Are they entrepreneurial?, Do they have an apostolic gift? All of these are important questions to ask. But I would contend that they are secondary.
The most important questions that we must start with and speak to are questions of the heart. In an age and culture, both in the church and in the world, where success is valued over character, we must do better at developing not just skilled church planters, but holistic and healthy church planters.
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