7 Top Issues Church Planters Face #1: Leadership

Leadership Development and Reproducing Culture

Planters face incredible pressure to find quality leaders quickly. Yet the limitations of money, critical mass, and spiritual maturity in new churches create an under-stocked leadership fishing pond. Planters can make critical mistakes as a result.

Many church planters attract interested people but few prepare leaders. Leadership development is the most frequently cited challenge of planters according to our research in this survey of church planting leaders and thinkers. Leadership includes the following.

1. Recruiting and developing leaders
2. Implementing teams
3. Leadership development approach
4. Hiring and leading staff
5. Making changes to facilitate growth
6. Decision-making
7. Empowering volunteers

Five Hurdles to Clear to Effectively Develop New Leaders

1. The Church Planter’s Lack of Leader-Developing Experience
Many planters come from previous roles where more established leadership development and volunteer mobilization processes are in place. Planters are now responsible for implementing a new process from scratch, often with little help. They are responsible for creating momentum where none exists versus maintaining existing momentum.

2. The Need for Quickly Implementing Volunteers
Planting can be lonely. Amid the long hours and hard work, planters conclude that any available “warm body” is an answer to prayer. Planters tend to put leaders in place prematurely based on availability. Established churches are slower, vetting potential leaders before delegating responsibility.

3. Lack of Quality Core Leaders
Many planters lack a strong leadership team early in the church’s life. This can result in an increased burden of responsibility, a lack of ongoing encouragement, a lack of advice on key decisions, and a lack of peer fellowship.

4. The Need for Staff
Planters hire too quickly–often family and friends because they are available. Dealing with bad hires can add further strain and discouragement, and may create setbacks in momentum.

5. The Need for Resources
Volunteers and financial resources are critical in the early days of a church plant. If a church waits until they can afford a second staff person, they face the prospect of losing momentum due to a senior pastor working beyond capacity. Studies show that the average new church has about 40 people the first year, placing a huge financial strain on the planter and delaying additional staff hires.

Conclusion (by Acts 29)

Find a practical and replicable plan for developing visitors into leaders. It is not enough to find a leader. A church planter has to have a big enough challenge to keep them interested while he develops them. Be specific and detailed about the process.
Find someone to coach the church planter. This addresses the need for core leaders.
Hire with caution.
Invest most of your time into potential leaders. High-needs people are common in a church plant. Be kind, but focus on 2 Timothy 2:2-type leaders. Look for those who can replicate what you are developing.
Pray for leaders to feel compelled to invest their leadership to the new church plant.

Want to learn more about leadership and church-planting? Consider attending one of our upcoming boot camps.

Abbreviated from a Report Prepared by Exponential and Ed Stetzer.

On this day...

Leave a Comment