When taking on a task of epic proportions, especially church planting, the natural question within us is: “Do I have what it takes?”
While this question is likely to raise identity issues within us we need to deal with, for now, I’m just going to address the legitimacy of this specific question.
I believe we should evaluate our endeavors in very practical ways to confirm God is actually leading us to this calling.
In Luke 14:28-30 Jesus said, “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’”
So, how do you know you have what it takes? For me, answering the following questions gave me practical confidence in God’s call.
- Is God telling me to do this?
We don’t usually hear God use an audible voice telling us what to do. We often get nudges, words of encouragement, emotions, thoughts, and even boldness with similar themes over a period of time. Here are some practical ways we learned to make space for God’s direction along the way.
Seek intentional spaces of solitude every month. In Matthew 11, Jesus said, “Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.” For me, I take one day every month to get away and pursue silence, usually in nature, listening to God’s voice and giving him space to talk to me with no distractions.
Fast and pray. In our journey of discernment for church planting, there were a few times we fasted and prayed to grow closer to the Lord and hear more clearly from him.
Go and visit the location you feel a nudging towards. Over 1 year, we visited 6 cities, praying in each one, saying, “God, you love this city, bless your work here, and give us a passion for it if you want us to plant here!” Finally, on the last visit, God spoke to us about planting in Durango.
- Do I have the skills and temperament necessary to start and then lead a church?
Sometimes we have no idea if we’re made for something like church planting. We may believe we are, but then second guess ourselves and think, can I actually do this? This is where the outside resources can be so useful!
Test, test, test.
Personality tests can be so helpful. As we got to know ourselves through Myers Briggs test, DISC test, enneagram, and strengths finder, it became clear to us that God had prepared us for such a task as this.
Multiply Vineyard’s 10 Question Assessment was key for us. The questions helped us see we were working toward the characteristics of healthy church planters.
- Do I have practice leading ministry in significant ways?
Allen Hodges, a Vineyard church planter, told me, “No specific task in church planting is that hard. But put it all together and it’s the hardest thing I have ever done.” Because of this, it’s crucial we have practice leading ministry.
Have you led in a local church? Have you planned sermon series, visited sick people in the hospital, performed weddings and funerals, multiplied small groups, gone to elder meetings, led people into a relationship with Christ, written and managed a budget, and done other ministry tasks?
It was helpful for me to say “yes” to as many ministry opportunities as I could to prepare for leading a church. Are there opportunities around you right now you could take advantage of to get practice?
- What do my mentors say about me planting a church?
This was a litmus test for me. I wanted to know if the people I looked up to thought I had what it took to lead a church. I had to solicit this advice without trying to steer my mentors toward responding in the way I wanted.
Do you have a mentor, someone you specifically reach out to who is farther along in this journey with Christ and ministry than you are? If not, find one as soon as possible!
Mentors became even more engaged during the process after I asked for their input.
- When I look at the body of Christ, who would I like to learn from?
Our sending church, Canyon View Vineyard, did a wonderful job supporting us. Not only did they prepare us through training and financial giving, but they also kept us on their staff for 5 months without specific responsibilities so we could learn everything we needed to succeed.
During that time, we spent one week each at 5 different churches we wanted to learn from. This time was invaluable to us.
What churches do you know of that you would like your future church to be like? Make a list and call those pastors and ask if you could spend some time learning from them. Plan to visit their church service, attend a staff or elder meeting, and follow the pastor around for a few days.
- Is my current senior pastor blessing this work?
Deuteronomy 31:7-8 says, “Then Moses summoned Joshua. He said to him with all Israel watching, “Be strong. Take courage. You will enter the land with this people, this land that God promised their ancestors that he’d give them. You will make them the proud possessors of it. God is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t worry.”
Something profound happens when we receive the blessing of our sending pastor and church. Their public stamp of approval was the final encouragement we needed.
Do you have a sending church? If you don’t, may I be as bold to say it’s time to find one? Delay your move and find a church to give you their authority and blessing. Don’t know where to go? Email us so we can get you connected to a local Vineyard church.
Everyone has what it takes to succeed as a child of God, but not everyone has what it takes to plant a church. You will know you should do it if God is calling you and if the natural facts match up.
Count the cost, look holistically at your life, and don’t be afraid of the practical stuff. May God bless you as you seek his will.
10 Key Questions for Discernment
About the Author
DJ Jergensen is the lead pastor and founder of Durango Vineyard Church. He and his wife Vanessa and their two girls, Ingrid and Lucy, moved to Durango in the summer of 2013 to start the church. It has been a wild ride full of joy, surprises, and challenges, but DJ and his family have fallen in love with Durango and couldn’t imagine themselves anywhere else.
Prior to coming to Durango, DJ was a youth pastor for 9 years at Canyon View Vineyard Church in Grand Junction. Before that, he attended Taylor University, where he surrendered his life to Jesus and met his beautiful wife, Vanessa. They love the outdoors, the seasons, people, and the sunshine. To learn more about the Durango Vineyard go to www.durangovineyard.com.
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