P2P: Discerning the Call (part 2a) – Our Calling to a “Method” (The Local Church)


Planning2Plant (P2P) is a series by Bryan Barley following his year of preparation for church planting.

While the first post dealt with the individual call, this post examines my calling to a particular “method.” My team’s methodology is to do everything we possibly can through the local church.

I struggled whether to make this the first post in the calling series. Which comes first – your own sense of calling or the church’s recognition of that call? In an ideal world, we would see churches and their pastors so consumed with the thought of planting other churches that their passion is to see men raised up within the congregation to be sent out to plant. Therefore, pastors would be intimately involved in the calling process, perpetually assessing and raising up leaders.

But I also recognize that it’s not the norm for most guys who may be reading this.* From a pragmatic point of view, such a heavy investment in church planting can appear unwise to local churches because it encompasses giving away money, resources, and your best people to a cause that doesn’t “directly” benefit your own local church. With the increased interest in church planting in SBC life, this attitude is slowly changing, but the reality is that many who read this are probably at churches where church planting isn’t on the radar. Hence, it’s tough for me to say you’re not called to church plant if you don’t have the local church behind you.

However, I would encourage you as much as possible to have the local church be the vehicle through which you plant your church. Before I felt entirely comfortable about planting, there were three major pieces I wanted in place to remain consistent with a methodology that emphasized the local church. The first is in this post, and the other two will be in tomorrow’s post:

1. A Sending Church

I am blessed to be at a place (The Summit Church, Durham, NC) that believes in churches planting churches (for example, see our church planting center, SendRDU). My pastor, J.D. Greear, regularly communicates that we measure success not by our “seating capacity” but rather our “sending capacity.” Therefore, we’re committed to planting 1,000 churches over the next forty years. Our “method” for doing this is the local church.

The benefits of having a local church behind you are countless. It is on the front lines of God’s mission. Training and discipleship can happen over the course of years from those actually “in the trenches” of local church ministry. For the planter, ministry experience is obtained, successes are celebrated, and failures happen in a context where it doesn’t mean the downfall of your newly-established and highly-fragile church plant.

Assessment as to whether you’re qualified to plant comes from men who actually know who you and are able to discern whether you meet the biblical qualifications of a pastor. While it’s easy to convince someone you’re qualified to plant when they’ve only met you once, a deeper relationship will expose your true strengths and weaknesses. It’s tough for someone other than the local church to really see whether you love your wife, regularly share the gospel, and disciple others.

What is a better training ground for church planting than the church on the front lines of the missio Dei ? The church knows you well enough to tell you when you’re ready to plant, and can prepare you to do it with excellence.

I can’t imagine a better place to be equipped than on the frontline, and I encourage you to think in the same way.

*Note: A natural question raised in this post is “what should I do if I feel called to plant a church, but the church I currently attend has no passion for church planting/ will not equip me for church planting?” This issue is a complicated one that is not intended to be answered in this post. However, my conviction is that the local church is the best place to prepare for church planting. Consequently, potential planters must think in this light, and established pastors must see their churches as training centers and launching pads for new church plants and planters. Ideally, every church would view itself as a church planting center in some way. However, this is not a reality at this time. This leaves some difficult questions to be answered when it comes to how one should best prepare to plant, as well as how to discern the call to plant when there are not pastors in your life who are eager to help you in this process. Churches still must be planted, but when the local church is not as involved I would recommend proceeding with greater caution.