Our Church Planting Story: The CandidateBy Scott Hamilton
June 21, 2022
Where do you find a church planting candidate? A former pastor of mine once told me how you can spot future leaders. They are the one who are moving the chairs.
His point wasn’t one around physical attributes or to say that everyone who moves chairs is a de facto leader. His point was that in amongst those in the church who are willingly doing the heavy lifting, sacrificially stepping out of conversations on order to carry weight or willingly embracing the small things that allow a church to function well is where you will find the kind of leaders who will help a church move forward healthily.
In that relatively simplistic principle is a recognition that there is something about character that is to be valued alongside and above competence and something of an attitude that is to be prized above other functional aptitudes. Inside the engine of the chair moving type is a heart of humility and a soul that is seeking any opportunity to serve. All that to say that when we think about church planting candidates we are looking for a kind of character compatibility that fits with that very down to earth leadership assessment model. Type A, untethered from humility is a tragedy waiting to happen.
The church-planting church has two ways of identifying leaders. You can go out and find them (recruitment) or you can look in and grow them (let’s call it re-fruitment for fun). Recruitment goes to people outside of the church and asks them to join the mission and ministry of the church. Re-fruitment is the process whereby the mission and ministry of the church bears fruit in leaders and planter being shepherded and sent. I always like the picture of “bloom where you are planted” and that is what we saw happen with our first church planter.
Lee and Zoe Ballantine walked into a Sunday service a few years ago as a newly married couple. Both of them had moved into Glasgow for work (as an engineer and a family doctor respectively). Both of them loved Jesus and had entered marriage together with the express intention of being useful for Jesus. That intention was evident in their willingness to serve in hospitality and kids ministry. They apprenticed as small group leaders then took on small group leadership. Lee spoke at our men’s ministry events. And from that flowed conversations.
Conversations about ministry .
Conversations about calling .
Conversations about preaching and pastoring and leading and…
These kinds of conversations combined with Lee’s growing appetite to explore ministry led to him taking on the role of ministry apprentice in our church. Our ministry apprentice role allows those who have a desire to get more exposure to ministry, or pursue some theological training, or to become more equipped for serving the Lord to join our team. For Lee that looked like joining in with message prep early in the week including preparing his own outline on the text for the coming Sunday. He started theological training with Crosslands, an in context theological training programme here in the UK. He attended visits and we discussed a vast variety of ministry topics. He continued to serve faithfully in this local church getting all the benefit of experience and relationship that comes with that. He did that all while working his regular job on a compressed hours basis.
After a while the conversation progressed from what does future ministry look like to what might church planting look like. He saw the need to release himself from his work environment in order to finish his studies most fruitfully and to experience and deeper immersion in a ministry environment. This time of “blooming where planted” allowed us to observe his life and ministry. It allowed us to hear him preach regularly, experience his insights, watch him lead and care, and see his love for Jesus on a consistent basis. We saw him willingly doing the heavy lifting, sacrificially stepping out of conversations on order to carry weight, and willingly embracing the small things that allow a church to function well.
The fruit of this? The planting of Harvest Ayr in the Autumn of 2021 with Lee as church planter.
The encouragement in all of this is to look for leaders who move chairs who are willing to be moved by God to help a movement of church planting make much of Jesus. Could it be that the planters of the future in your church will be the ones who right now are heaving plastic seats and putting them in place so people can encounter the Lord? That is what we are praying for as we look to what God will do next.
If you think God might be calling you to plant a church, why not take a few minutes to complete GCC’s Am I Called? pre-assessment. It is completely free.