Four C’s of a Church Planter (Part 1: Introduction) 

Written by Pastor Andy Coyle

Four C’s of a Church Planter (Part 1: Introduction)

A common question that I have been asked is, “How does one know they are to plant a congregation?” It’s a really important question given the unique realities of starting something from nothing. There is a pretty common breakdown that is very helpful in identifying and preparing church planters. However, as you will see, the framework isn’t unique to planting alone. This framework is helpful for all ministry fields no matter how God has built a person, and where God will send them. The specific and unique differences for planting will show up as we go through this blog series. We can call this framework the Four C’s of Church Planting. In this introductory article, my goal is to show how each of these categories are to function together as a helpful rubric.

The Four C’s are:

1)      Calling: Has God called me? Has this call been confirmed externally?

2)      Character: Do I qualify based on the Scriptural qualifications for ministry?

3)      Chemistry: Do I theologically, philosophically, and culturally fit with the congregation?

4)      Competency: Has God gifted me with skills and abilities necessary?

Now, right away you probably recognize some of those categories. They are well known within the leadership and ministry world. Rightly understood, they provide a valuable assessment tool for individuals and congregations. The tendency we have in the church is that in an effort to “speed up the process,” we lower the bar and in effect, marginalize one or more of these categories. Equally dangerous is when we are so needy for a shepherd, one or more of these aspects are set aside. The results lead to spiritual damage that is often downplayed or ignored. What do I mean? Let’s workshop this briefly. I admit that these three examples are overly simplistic and not comprehensive in possibility. Yet, situations like these do happen when one or more of these categories are marginalized.

Person #1: Perceived Calling and Godly Character without Chemistry and Competency.

This situation describes one that is a good and godly person who wants to serve the lord. Others see his person and just assume they are built to be a pastor. Unfortunately, they lack the necessary theological and philosophical understanding or fit to shepherd well. They also lack key skills necessary for effective ministry (i.e. communication skills, emotional IQ, leadership). This will most likely produce a very hard experience for the pastor and congregation simply because he has been put in the wrong place.

Person #2: Chemistry and Competency without Character and Calling 

This situation describes a very gifted man. He knows his stuff. People see great teaching, leadership and skill. They naturally assume he is called. However, his underdeveloped character and perhaps lack of calling will create great hardship and division within a congregation.

Person #3: Calling, Character and Competency without Chemistry. 

This situation describes a Godly man who the Lord has built to plant. The problem is that perhaps he doesn’t align with the theological distinctives of a congregation or the Association. This will over time create difficulty as the congregation develops in a way that doesn’t fit within the broader Association theologically. This becomes an integrity issue for the pastor and congregation.

Divine & Human

What you will notice is that in each of these aspects, there is a divine and human element in play. A true calling comes from God and is confirmed by men. Character is worked out by the Holy Spirit, yet our effort and disciplines can hinder this work. Chemistry has innate factors built in, yet much of it is simply the humble desire and understanding of the preparatory work needed to shepherd well. Competencies most definitely describe certain innate gifts from God, yet many of our abilities can be improved upon through skill work and mentorship.

A key point in all of this, especially beyond Calling, is a hard working person that wants to grow in their walk with the Lord, their theological and philosophical depth, and hard ministry skills. If a potential pastor downplays these key components through their words and actions, that’s a red flag and most likely shows they aren’t called into this work.

Each of these C’s works together in a holistic way and provide congregations a great assessment tool for planters and congregations as they seek the Lord’s leading. Over the next four blogs, we will see each of these C’s described and their necessary relationship to one another further highlighted.

Part 2 will dive into the first C – Calling. 


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