“Would it be a sin for you to NOT plant a church?”

It’s a common question that potential church planters get asked in the assessment process. The intent is to see how firm God’s calling is on this man to plant a church.

What a stupid question.

church planting calling

Similarly, church planting gurus will say things like, “If there’s anything else you could be happy doing, then you should go do it instead.” Implication: church planting is so hard that you should avoid it if possible.

This, too, is a stupid statement.

I loved church planting. At times it was very difficult, but on the whole it was a blast. I have full confidence that this was something God called me to do and he has blessed it beyond my hopes or expectations.

But there are all kinds of other things I could have done—and could do now—and still obeyed and glorified God. I could have been a baseball coach. I could have been a teacher. I could have sold medical equipment, insurance, accounting software, or real estate. I could have started a business or worked at my uncle’s boy’s ranch. I could have stayed on staff as a groups pastor at an established church.

I could leave the ministry tomorrow and still enjoy my life and glorify God in 10,000 other ways.

I didn’t get into church planting because it’s the only thing I could do. I got into it because:

(a) we need more good churches,

(b) God seemed to have given me a skill-set that fit church planting, and

(c) our family thought we’d enjoy it.

Ironically, church planters often struggle with their identity being the church or their ministry. Could this be due in part to stupid assumptions like the ones above?

If church planting is the only thing you can do and still obey God, then it’s almost guaranteed to become an idol.

So, my advice to potential church planters:

If you want to plant a church, you think you’d be good at it, and have godly elders who have trained and affirmed you in this endeavor, then go for it.

Or don’t.

God loves you—and you can serve him faithfully—either way.

Published by Luke Simmons

I was born and raised in Denver, CO and lived there through high school. Then I moved to Champaign, IL where I attended the University of Illinois and played on the Fighting Illini baseball team. I was married in December, 2001 to Molly, who I met at the U of I. In June of 2002, we moved to Phoenix and have been here ever since.

5 thoughts on ““Would it be a sin for you to NOT plant a church?”

  1. Hey man,l I love the “‘God ain’t mad at you’ if you do or you don’t” perspective you bring.

  2. Are there guys out there who actually think, ‘There’s nothing else I could be doing other than planting a church?’ I feel like the skills that effective church planters have could be used a MILLION different ways.

    1. Sadly, I think there are. It’s made a big deal in church planting and pastoral world. I was just reading a few days ago where Martyn Lloyd-Jones was making the same point and quoting Spurgeon about how “if there’s anything other than being a pastor you think you could do, you should do it.”

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