“How will I know if I’m supposed to plant a church?” That’s the question that kept me pinned down when my church was just a dream growing in my head. It’s also the question that most aspiring church planters ask me. Is church planting mystical? Is it spiritual? Or is it practical?

One of the most important things you need to know is that planting a church isn’t mystical, but it is both spiritual and practical. I’ve heard it said that “the planter builds the sail and the Holy Spirit makes the wind blow.” Ben Arment’s book, Church in the Making, is one of the best books I’ve read regarding the spiritual and practical groundwork that precedes the success of a church plant.

Here are the four spiritual and practical foundations on which to build a church:

Desire

It is important that you really want to plant this church. If you are married, it is also important that your wife really wants to plant this church. Church planting is not a hobby. It isn’t something we try to see if it works out, and it isn’t a job we create for ourselves to get out of a bad situation. It is a sending out from the Lord that must possess us.

There will be sleepless nights of prayer. There will be false teachers you will ask to leave your church and staff members that you will have to fire. You aren’t starting a band. You are building a church. If you don’t possess a burning desire to plant a church, then you will quit when it gets too hard.

Calling

It is important that you know who this church is going to reach. We shouldn’t plant new churches to attract believers to a new style of church. We should plant new churches to reach new believers who have yet to be changed by the gospel.

Your church plant is the Lord’s evangelism strategy for your city. If you don’t see yourself as called to a particular people, then you’re likely planting the church for yourself. While there is an aspect of planting that is quite rewarding for the planter, your main objective for planting this church must be to reach new people for Jesus.

Affirmation

Who is asking you to plant this church? That’s an important question. Is anyone willing to fund your vision for this new plant? A church plant should have legitimate partners. Churches plant churches. Individuals don’t plant churches. Denominations don’t plant churches. And you shouldn’t fund the church plant like a pyramid scheme with your parents’ cash.

Tell your closest friends that you want to plant this church. Submit yourself to a church planting assessment process such as Acts 29 or The Send NetworkTell your pastor and current church family. Create a clear and compelling strategy and submit it to a missions committee or potential partnering church. See what they say.

Usually, advisers affirm planters and give them some conditions to improve on before beginning the work of reaching their city. Wait until they affirm you, then proceed.

Opportunity

We make all sorts of plans. We build the sails and prepare for the breeze to blow, but it is ultimately the Lord who establishes our steps.

I originally thought I was supposed to plant a church in my hometown in Oklahoma. I couldn’t even get my parents to commit to the church. That was not what the Lord had for us. There was no real opportunity for me to plant in my hometown. Opportunity led us to move out of state and plant our church in Surprise, Arizona.

How do you know you are supposed plant a church? When your relentless desire, calling, and affirmation collide with a genuine, God-given opportunity to plant.

Jason Vance

Jason Vance

Jason Vance is the pastor of Valley Life | Surprise, planted in 2014. He was the Director of Missions for Mullins Baptist Association from 2010-2014.