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Where Can I Find Church Planters?

By Rachel Gilmore

Stock young man standing alone

Annual Conferences around the United States want to start new churches, but there seems to be a leadership vacuum and it can be hard to find potential church planters. So what are some tips from Path 1 about how to develop a larger pool of potential church planters? Rev. Rachel Gilmore, Director of Recruiting, Assessing, and Training for Church Planting for Path 1, shares some suggested best practices.

Look at your laity

Ken Nash, who planted Cornerstone Church in Grand Rapids, used lay leadership to grow his multi-site ministry. At the Navigate event hosted by the Susquehanna Conference in August 2019, he shared his approach for training and deploying laity to plant. He looks for laity with the “five C’s” of character, calling, capability, chemistry, and courage. Laity are also leading many of the “new spaces for new faces” communities or “fresh expressions” that we see popping up around the United States. Fresh Expressions and Path 1 have trainings available to equip laity to start these new faith communities.

Path 1 will be at the National Gathering for Fresh Expressions in April. Click here to register.

New People in New Places is a Path 1 training that offers a Wesleyan-based approach to pioneering these new faith communities with laity. Click here to read more.

Look at those entering the system

Some annual conferences make it a requirement to start a fresh expression of faith during their provisional time or at licensing school. If someone can successfully gather a group of people outside of their local congregation and cultivate meaningful relationships, they might be an effective church planter.

Look at local college students

If colleges in your state offer degrees in social entrepreneurship, recruit graduates with a Wesleyan theology to plant churches that transform both the hearts and lives of those in their community. Also consider partnering a social entrepreneur with a planter to work as a team in starting new, life-giving expressions of faith and justice in their local community.

Look at seminarians from Methodist and Wesleyan-based schools

Offer a summer field education placement for those discerning a call to plant a church. Adam Weber started planting Embrace Church in Sioux Falls while he was still a student at Asbury Seminary.

Look at youth pastors who have a thriving ministry

Effective youth ministers tend to have energy and passion for explaining the gospel in ways that are easy to understand and effective. Their out-of-the-box approach to ministry is also a skill that can be helpful in church planting, so help youth pastors discern if they might be called into church planting or into a church planting team to reach those disconnected from God and a faith community.

Rachel Gilmore is the Director of Recruiting, Assessing & Training for Church Planting with Path 1. She stays away from foliage but loves to plant other things like churches, preschools, and ideas in the minds of those looking for innovation and inspiration in the church.

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