Friday, December 22, 2006

Youth Pastors Who Are Called To Church Planting

Yesterday I was asked to teach a seminar at an upcoming church planting conference. The title of my breakout session is Leaping From Youth Ministry to Church Planting. This is an interesting topic and one Geoff and I have been exploring for several months. Here are some of the questions we have been asking:
  • What percentage of church planters come from youth ministry?

Answer so far - quite a few. Okay, so we don't have Barnaesque statistics on that yet. But we're working on it. If anyone has those stats, I'd love to hear 'em.

  • How can youth pastors transition successfully from youth ministry to occupational church planting?

Ah, there's the rub. We've heard lots of horror stories about youth pastors going into their senior pastor's office and telling him of their calling to church planting. Then they hear the dreaded words: "I'll need your resignation letter by tomorrow morning." So instead of thinking through church planting strategy, they spend the next 24 hours thinking how to tell their wives they have to get a job at Home Depot. Immediately.

So one key is, we have to climatize the church, and the senior pastor, before any announcements. What is the best way to do that? Engage the church in church planting. So my recommendation is that when a youth pastor feels called to church planting, he or she start planting churches using the resources he or she currently has, namely, students. By familiarizing the church with church planting and giving them a heart for multiplication, student ministers will guarantee a better response if and when they decide to step away to be a full-time church planter. Not that working at Home Depot while planting a church is a bad idea, but it would be nice to have the support of your former church and former pastor. If climatizing is done well, they could end up as your sponsor, sending you money, people and resources to plant a new church. And that is good for them, for the kingdom and for your family.

So be patient. Read and reread the parable of the talents. Be faithful, and be wise. And don't jump till you are sure you are called to jump. A call to church planting does not mean you have to resign. It may mean you lead your church to multiply itself. And that is just cool.

  • Does every youth pastor who feels a calling to church planting have to leave his current position?

I sort of got a little long-winded and answered this one already. But this begs a follow-up question: how do you fufill a calling to plant churches without becoming a full-time church planter? If you are a youth pastor, it may mean your youth group adopts a new church plant, sends encouragement emails to church planters' kids, offers your church or homes as Safehouses (see the Safehouses tab on our website), gives money to church planting, educates your church on church planting, takes a church planting mission trip (like a MissionMPossible deployment event or a Powerplant week), or actually plants a church. Shoot us an email if you need more ideas, we'd be glad to help (unless Geoff is fishing, in which case he will ignore your email. But he will get back to you the next week and be glad to help if you will listen to his fishing stories. "It was thi-is big...")

If you are a youth pastor who is considering church planting or a church planter who came from youth ministry, I'd love to hear your story. We may use it at the conference. And if you would like to join us February 26-27th in Cumming, GA, just go to You can register for the conference and for my seminar. I promise to have meticulous statistics by then. Just look for the guys in the orange aprons. Come to think of it, "you can do it, we can help" is not a bad slogan...


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