How do I know if I'm ready to be a church planter?

August 6, 2019
How do I know if I'm ready to be a church planter?

“Don’t get healthy to church plant, get healthy to be healthy.”

Not everyone can plant a church because of the grind ahead of them. If you are questioning whether you’re up for being a church planter, there are assessments are in place to start the church planting process. Tim Wheat tells us what these assessments look like, how they have changed and why they are helpful. 


Meet Tim Wheat

When Tim was 25 years old, his campus minister went and planted a church in Seattle. He spoke with Tim all about church planting during this process, and that was the seed that started Tim’s church planting journey.  

Tim Wheat oversees a lot of what the North American Mission Board (NAMB) does throughout the South of the U.S., including strengthening, coaching, and more. Tim planted a church for the first time years ago and has been through many different assessments himself. They weren’t all rainbows and butterflies. In 2011, Tim took over the assessment process within NAMB, and he approached the role with a mindset of bringing more value to a Church Planter's life. 

Tim says that a person can be very excited and fired up as they get started with the process, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the right time or that they are spiritually and emotionally equipped to be a church planter. There are multiple eyes and multiple ears involved with Church Planting assessments. Those eyes and ears make it a well-rounded experience. 


So how have assessments changed? 

Tim wants Church Planting assessments to be Spirit-lead and life-giving. When assessors look at a couple interested in planting a church, it’s best to coach the husband and wife together, work through blind spots and try to prepare them for the challenges ahead. 

Tim also talks about assessment retreats. They call them retreats because they are focused around being restorative and life-giving. The goal is for a couple to leave a retreat with more value and a growth plan.

When Tim started this job, he was seeing lots of different standards in church planting assessments, from phone calls to lengthy in-person meetings, and he worked to standardize the process. The way this process goes affects the quality of the potential future church in a huge way, so it’s important to get it right. The worst thing that can happen is a church failing because the church planter wasn’t a good fit. 


How do I know I’m right for the job?

Tim looks for 9 characteristics for readiness in a Church Planter:

  1. Passionate Calling 

  2. Leadership 

  3. Emotional and Spiritual health

  4. Marriage health

  5. Communication

  6. Disciple-Making experience

  7. Evangelism

  8. Vision Casting 

  9. Social Engagement  


Church Planting assessors also assess the church planter’s spouse, because church planting is a team effort. The readiness of both the husband and the wife is critical to the success and health of the church plant. It’s important to hear their hearts for church planting, their backgrounds and their fears about the process of moving forward with church planting. 

Sometimes husbands can be so passionate about planting a church that they dominate the situation and the wife feels like she doesn’t have a say. Tim says they should feel valued and validated; if the wife isn’t ready, neither is her spouse. 


If I am a pastor, what should I be looking for potential church planters?

Tim says these are the characteristics to keep an eye out for in a possible church planter:

  • Risk Takers 

  • Naturally followed 

  • Values Teams 

  • Spouse Support

  • Good Communicator

  • Relate well to others outside of the Church