1. Pray. Pray. Pray. This can’t be stressed enough. If you desire to lead a church then it must be with prayer. God is the one doing the work. You can accomplish nothing for the Kingdom on your own.
2. Check your motives. You need to do some serious soul-searching and ask the Lord if this is your desire or if it’s truly God’s call on your life. Don’t church plant because someone else said you should, or because you successfully started a business, or because you want to move to a cool city, or because there was a good ministry opportunity available in a different location. I’ve heard all of these reasons given by church planters as to why they became a church planter, and none of them are good reasons. Go into church planting because God called you to spread the gospel, expand the Kingdom, and make disciples.
3. Seek Godly counsel. You must have spiritual guidance before you start, while you are searching, and all through the process. Find Godly men who love you enough to tell you the truth about your life and ministry.
4. Go through a church planter’s assessment. Find the most rigorous assessment and do it. Don’t settle for the soft assessments that only take a couple of hours and everyone passes. I chose ours because a church planter told me that they passed less than 50% and that he was brought to tears during one painfully honest grilling. And when you go into assessment, just be yourself. At first, I tried to act like someone that I thought they wanted to see. It was only after I stopped “acting” that they saw the real me.
5. Work hard and pray harder. When you begin the gathering of individuals you will need to pray a lot and invite a lot. You must have persistence and patience. It’s going to take work and it’s going to take time. Invest in people. Be a consistent presence in your community and in individuals lives.
6. Evangelize and Disciple. Your new church will need mature followers of Christ. It will also grow from people who are recommitting their lives to the Lord. And it will also grow as you share your faith with people who don’t know Christ yet. If you aren’t involved with all three of these types of people on a regular basis then you should not be the pastor of a new church.
7. Pastor from day 1. If you are called to start a church, then no matter what the size, you are a pastor. You bear an awesome privilege and responsibility, so do not take it lightly and do not downplay it. Along those same lines I’ve also learned these two lessons: 1) Pastor the person in front of you. Don’t pastor who they aren’t. Don’t pastor who you think they are. Don’t pastor the person you wish it was. Pastor the people God calls you to. And along those same lines: 2) Pastor the community in which you life. Be a pastor where you are. I believe in the parish model of church and so I strive to be involved in my community in order to see the gospel planted and take root in our community.
8. And finally, don’t give up. Stay in the fight. Keep going. There will be difficult times, but do not give up.