Called to Church Planting

I have been working now through the process since about January of this year to be approved as a church planter with the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. I created this page to share my calling to church planting. I intend to share other things as well, but this page will be a permanent reference for any one interested in my calling.

My desire to plant a church long predates the process in which I am now involved. I did not really know what church planting was until I went to Bible college. When I was first introduced to the concept, I suddenly realized I had been imagining doing this in my neighborhood years before I went to college. I just did not have the experience or support to pull it off. Consequently, I was really interested in church planting, but the more I learned about it I felt that I did not have the personality to be a church planter. I happily decided to pursue pastoral ministry instead.

Yet, the interest in church planting did not go away. While I was pastoring in Michigan, I still very much had a heart for church planting. In fact, Shelley and I had some serious discussions with a few people about starting a church in a nearby town while I continued on as a pastor. Unfortunately, these talks did not ultimately result in a church being planted.

In addition, we still had family back in Ohio who would sometimes ask us our opinion about churches in the west central area. I was not familiar with the churches because most of my church experience was in northwest Ohio. What I found was that there were very few churches who were struggling and few in number (Subsequently, I have met some of these pastors. I was pleased to discover their heart for God and the propagation of the gospel). I often day dreamed of moving back home to plant a church so that there would be new people reached with the gospel and at the same time struggling churches could be strengthened.

In March of 2013, we did move back home not to plant a church but to care for my terminally ill mother. The Lord used this year for my family to reconnect with my mom and for refreshment after the disappointments from our previous ministry experience. Around 2016, I began to seriously consider and pray about church planting, and Shelley and I started working towards putting ourselves in the position to be able to do it. My early doubts about being a church planter were overcome when we became members of Two Rivers Community Church, a church still pastored 20 years later by the founding pastor. Pastor Mac and other church planters I have met because of TRCC are not what I had imagined a typical church planter had to be. They gave me hope that even I might be able with God’s help to be a church planter. It also helps that Shelley makes up for many of my deficits. I feel that as long as we work together in this task God will use us to plant a church for his glory.

As our goals began to be accomplished, I began talking with Pastor Phil Delorme, the Director of Missions for the West Central Ohio Baptist Association, about my desire to church plant. I was pleased to find out that this struggling association was already praying about planting churches in their association. In addition, Pastor Phil had already began working to find support for the new plants. I was excited to hear about what was for them a bold vision. It seemed to me that God in his providence was working on Pastor Phil, the West Central Association, and me at the same time.

This is where we are at today. I am still in the process of being approved by NAMB. I’m using time of transition to read about church planting and leadership, participating in online training and a conferences, and praying, praying, praying. I have also been asking myself a few soul searching questions like, “Am I pursuing church planting because I want to make a difference for the kingdom of God?” and “Is church planting the best way for me to make a difference?” There’s a million wrong reasons to plant a church, but only one right one. I want by the grace of God to have the right motives for church planting.