The Difference Between a Church Planting Pastor and a Church Planting Missionary


Yes, long title.

Hopefully it caught your attention. Not for click bait reasons but because of genuine interest. It is a title and conversation worth having. You see, how you self-identify tells me everything about your approach to church planting. Not only that, what you talk about tells me what kind of planter you are.

Are you ready? Let’s give this a whirl.

I’ve been around enough church planters long enough to see a clear delineation between the two. I’d venture to say that most church planters I know are really pastors looking to start new congregations so they can lead, teach, and maybe shepherd (if they’re gifted in that area). What’s the tell to indicate this?

If you sit down with a church planting pastor and you talk about church planting the conversation almost always revolves around “churchy” things … church name, their logo, what venue they hope to meet in, how their worship gatherings may look, preferred Bible translations, what books they’re reading from which pastor-leader they love, their social media engagement, and so on. The conversation always is about the church … or the one they hope to plant.

Is that bad or wrong? No, not really. It’s what I notice that is missing is heart-breaking.

I hear it all of the time … people moving to Portland to plant a church. The conversation, like mentioned above, is all about planting said church. Do you know what I rarely hear about? People. In particular, people who’re not already following Jesus. I hear lots of conversations about models, methods, social media, etc. But I don’t know if I can recall too often the saying … “I moved to Portland (or if already here and stepping out) because these people (insert group) are on my heart. I can’t shake them. I love them. I am burdened for them. I care for them. I am wiling to give my life for them.” This could be a socio-economic grouping, an ethnicity, a cultural tribe, etc.

Instead, I hear all about church-this and church-that.

I’m not here to pick on anyone. I just want to have honest and open conversations. We all have these kinds of conversations. Let’s just be up front. It’d certainly dispel a lot. Just be honest. Don’t worry, it’s ok. You can be honest. This is a safe place.

Maybe the question before you is … are you a church planting pastor or a church planting missionary?

Church PlantingSean Benesh