What Should the Lifestyle of a Church Planter Look Like?
The question before church planters is: how are they (we) to live? What should a typical day or week look like for a church planter? Obviously, the answers to these questions will be influenced mostly by context, but there are some commonalities across the board. You see, everything to this point becomes cumulative. Once the whole trajectory gets set in motion, then all the dominos begin falling.
I would contend that the lifestyle of church planters is a direct reflection of their training, calling, identity, and of course methods. Maybe a church planter is not sure initially of their identity and how they see themselves, but there’s a good chance that their training, funding, and all the other strings attached will push them in a certain direction. Maybe a better way to differentiate these two modes of church planting, which depend on calling and identity, would be to call one a church-planter pastor and the other a church-planter missionary.
Just because one identifies as the former doesn’t mean they’re done planting once their church is established. Nor does being the latter mean that they are always on the move and rarely stay put in one place for more than a couple of years. However, there is a direct correlation between the identities of both and their vastly different lifestyles.
When I meet with church-planting pastors, the conversations revolve entirely around the church. We talk about the worship gatherings, leadership development, ornery parishioners, people leaving the church, problems with the worship team, finding affordable venue spaces for the worship gatherings, multiplying small groups, following a certain liturgical calendar, sermon preparation, dealing with church finances, and more. That focus, in turn, dictates and influences the planter’s lifestyle.
Conversely, a church-planting missionary lives a different lifestyle. How so? One way to see would be to answer the following questions. What is the lifestyle of a pastor? What is the lifestyle of a missionary? The answers to those will most often be significantly different. Many missionaries I know and met simply do different things. They go to places like Nepal and begin an urban gardening co-op as a way to connect with people. They move to Thailand to start a bike shop to create a community hub as a way to connect with people. They move to Mexico and start a kayak guiding service to connect with people. They move to Turkey to launch a specialty coffee shop to connect with people.
While both work towards the same goal (establishing new churches), their lifestyles, methods, and habits differ noticeably. I also believe that what distinguishes the two is how they view their career or occupation. For most planters, it’s about establishing a new church in hopes of it paying a salary as soon as possible. Thus, one of the unspoken goals is to establish and grow the church quickly and in such a way that it begins meeting their financial needs. For many, church planting is a career move.
With that said, what does your lifestyle say about you?