What is a “church planter profile”?
Abraham Lincoln famously said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” That quote is a good summary of the advice given and expectations outlined in the profile below. Sketching out a “profile” of a church planter allows the network to state its aim and measure expectations accurately; it also affords any prospective planter with the knowledge and resources necessary to prepare themselves for planting with Sojourn Network.
It is our desire that each prospective planter ready themselves in the areas of head, heart, hands, and habitat as detailed below.
The Church Planter’s
The planter aligns with Sojourn Network’s statement of faith and doctrinal distinctives. In broad strokes, he is reformed in soteriology, baptistic, complementarian, connectional, continuationist, and committed to planting an elder-led church by practicing plurality.
The planter believes all theology is practical and all practice is theological. His convictions are consistent and cognizant to the theological framework of the Sojourn Network consisting of Whole Vision (God’s Glory, Our Growth, and Great Commission) displayed by the Whole Gospel (Kingdom, Cross, Grace), forming the whole church (Worshiper, Disciple, Family, Servant, Witness) fueled into the Whole World (Home, Work, Neighborhood, Need, and Nations) and changing a the Whole Person from the inside out into every part of their lives (see Sojourn Network’s theological vision, North Star). The planter articulates a missional urgency for the holistic restoration of broken people, places, and things. Embracing a theology of presence, he is convinced his church is in this specific city/region for the glory of God and the good of that city/region. In whatever ways possible, he is committed to cultivating environments to overcome ethnic, generational, socio-economic, and gender barriers.
GatHERED/SCATTERED MINISTRY PHILOSOPHY
As the planter works his theological convictions through a holistic theological framework, certain Scripturally-rooted, local ministry strategies necessarily manifest themselves. These shared strategies in Sojourn Network churches include gathering together (Hebrews 10:25; Acts 2:46), preaching/teaching (John 21:15-17; 2 Tim. 4:1-2), scattering together (Acts 2:46-47), equipping (Eph. 4:11-12), leading the church (1 Peter 5:13), discipling the saints (Matt. 28:19), engaging the culture (Jer. 29:4-7), serving the poor (James 1:27; also, see Beyond Charity by Nathan Ivey), and multiplying the church locally, nationally, internationally (Acts 1:8). Rather than leading our churches to adopt the same local programs and practices, however, these shared biblical strategies help inform and lead to a diverse and highly contextualized suite of local church programs and ministry practices common in Sojourn Network churches. Further, these strategies reflect the theological convictions and holistic theological vision outlined above.
With a conviction about gospel saturation and possessing a robust ecclesiology, the planter seeks to multiply disciples and churches. He understands redemptive history and his God-given place within it, and he seeks to obey the Great Commission in his personal example and does the work of an evangelist (2 Tim. 4: 5; see Being a Gospel Witness by Daniel Montgomery). In his evangelistic and discipleship fervor, he is devoted to and dependent upon the Lord, knowing the results are in the Father’s hands (see A Theology of Church Multiplication by Jamin Stinziano).
The Church Planter’s
The planter has a clear love for Jesus. The fruit of the Spirit is growing and evident in his life. There are discernable marks of a growing dependence upon the Holy Spirit. His character is marked by faithfulness to the Lord and a commitment to pursue intimacy with him. He actively engages with God through the Scriptures, prayer, and other spiritual-disciplines. His life—physical, emotional, sexual, financial, rhythms of work and rest (see Why Retreat? by Mike Cosper) etc.—reflects this vibrancy and others appear to be spiritually provoked by him.
The planter is self-aware, knowing his place before the Lord as redeemed and being redeemed. He owns both his strengths and weaknesses. He embraces his dignity as an image-bearer and lives out his calling in service to Christ and others. He does not think of himself too highly, nor is there a contrived self-deprecation. He is teachable, and therefore knows the need for others to speak into his life, including his friends, spouse, and a local plurality of men in his local church (see Healthy Plurality = Durable Church by Dave Harvey).
The Church Planter’s
In submission to Christ, the planter displays leadership qualities that are unique to the calling of “pastor.” He senses a call for this type of caring influence and others affirm it in him. He also understands the need to equip God’s people and release them to minister in their spiritual giftedness. He is not domineering, but rather he serves those under his care.
The candidate appears able to handle the Scriptures faithfully. His preaching is empowered by the Spirit, exalts Christ, and articulates the Father’s heart. He exhibits an awareness of the biblical narrative and seems capable of communicating God’s Word in a winsome and understandable manner. Past preaching opportunities have led to others (local elders) affirming his calling and giftedness in this area.
The planter is entrepreneurial, having a vision for where God is leading, a willingness to go there, and an ability to bring others along with him. He is both knowledgeable and invested in the brokenness of the community where he desires to plant. There are compelling qualities in his leadership, such as the endurance to push through setbacks, losses, disappointment, and failure. He is adaptable, able to shift priorities, and handle multiple tasks while staying focused on the mission. Further, the planter collaborates towards unity when leading teams of people.
The Church Planter’s
THE PLANTER’S HOME
If applicable, the candidate has a flourishing marriage in which God’s glory is on display. In his grace, God is using the planter’s wife as a primary instrument to encourage, strengthen, and sanctify her husband. Both the candidate and his wife seem clear on their roles within marriage and, though not perfect, their union brings joy to the couple and others who know them. If applicable, the planter’s children are growing up in a home where they see and experience their earthly father in devotion to his heavenly Father, while also loving and serving Christ his wife, his kids, the Church, and the community. Neighbors, outsiders, and the needy are welcomed into his life and home with warm compassion.
THE PLANTER’S LOCAL CHURCH
The candidate is currently a member of a church, has a track record of humble service and leadership in some local church, and has submitted his call to plant a church to his local church’s leadership for assessment and affirmation (see How Do We Partner [With Local Churches] to Assess Church Planters? by Dave Harvey). He is not planting reactively or impulsively, but prayerfully and in community with others who affirm his calling and gifting.
THE PLANTER’S NETWORK CHEMISTRY
The candidate exhibits characteristics that are consistent with Sojourn Network and appears able to articulate why planting through Sojourn Network is the right decision for both his church and himself. He also appears to accurately comprehend the blessings and limitations of the network (see What We Mean When We Say Care by Dave Harvey), understands what it means for churches to partner and has faith to sign the Sojourn Network Partnership Agreement. The candidate is postured to both receive from and pour into the network. He desires to partner at a local, regional, and national level and appears to connect relationally with other pastors and ministry leaders. In fact, the desire to develop meaningful relationships is a desire and priority for a potential Sojourn Network planter-pastor. The category of ‘chemistry’ ultimately means that the candidate’s presence in the network would likely move the mission forward and other pastors would probably be drawn to leading and learning with him.