Characteristics of Effective Church Planters

by | Updated November 23rd, 2021

The long process of church planting typically involves leadership training, evangelism, and the organization of specific ministries within the local congregation. Dr. Charles Ridley was commissioned by a group of denominational churches to determine the traits of effective church planters. Based upon his research, he developed a comprehensive list of characteristics that define effective church planters.

Visioning Capacity

  1. Being a person who projects into the future beyond the present.
  2. Developing a theme which highlights the vision and philosophy of ministry.
  3. Coping effectively with non-visioning elements.
  4. Not erecting artificial walls or limits either overtly or subconsciously.
  5. Establishing a clear church identity related to the theme and vision.
  6. Believing in God’s capacity to do great things.

Intrinsically Motivated

  1. Having a desire to do well and a commitment to excellence.
  2. Stick-to-itiveness and persistence.
  3. Having initiative and aggressiveness without the negative connotations.
  4. Having a willingness to work long and hard.
  5. Being a self-starter with a willingness to build from nothing.
  6. Having a high energy and vitality level (physical stamina).

Creates Ownership of Ministry

  1. Helping people to feel responsible for the growth and success of the church.
  2. Gaining a commitment of the people to the vision.
  3. Establishing a congregational identity.
  4. Avoiding stereotyping of the congregation by imposing unrealistic goals.

Relates to the Unchurched

  1. Communicating in style that is understood by the unchurched.
  2. Understanding the psychology or mentality of the unchurched.
  3. Moving and functioning in the personal space of the unchurched without fear.
  4. Quickly getting to know the unchurched on a personal level.
  5. Breaking through the barriers erected by the unchurched.
  6. Handling crises faced by the unchurched.

Spousal Cooperation

  1. Having an explicit agreement regarding each partner’s involvement in ministry.
  2. Having explicit rules regarding the use of home as an office.
  3. Evaluating the consequences of ministry demands upon the children.
  4. Functioning as a team through individual and collective action.
  5. Having a strategy for dealing with strangers.
  6. Modeling wholesome family life before church and community.
  7. Agreeing upon and sharing the ministry vision.
  8. Deliberately planning and protecting private family life.

Effectively Builds Relationships

  1. Responding with urgency to expressed needs and concerns of people.
  2. Displaying Godly love and compassion to people.
  3. Getting to know people on a personal basis.
  4. Making others feel secure and comfortable in one’s presence.
  5. Not responding judgmentally or prejudicially to new people.
  6. Appreciating and accepting a variety of persons.
  7. Spends time with present parishioners without ignoring them for new people.

Committed to Church Growth

  1. Believing in church growth as a theological principle.
  2. Appreciating steady growth without preoccupation with quick success .
  3. Committing to numerical growth within the context of spiritual and relational growth.
  4. Recognizing that non-growth is threatening and self-defeating.
  5. Establishing the goal of quickly becoming a financially self-supporting church.
  6. Not prematurely falling into a ministry of maintenance.
  7. Seeing the church project within the larger context of God’s kingdom.

Responsive to Community

  1. Understanding the culture of the community.
  2. Identifying and assessing community needs.
  3. Responding to community needs on a priority basis.
  4. Determining successes and failures of other attempts to respond to the community.
  5. Not confusing what the community needs with what the church wants to offer.
  6. Acquiring and understanding of the character and pulse of the community.
  7. Adapting the philosophy of ministry to the character of the community.

Utilizes Giftedness of Others

  1. Understanding the culture of the community.
  2. Releasing and equipping people to do the task of ministry.
  3. Discerning of spiritual gifts in others.
  4. Matching the gifts of people with ministry needs and opportunities.
  5. Delegating effectively in areas of personal limitation.
  6. Avoiding personal overload by delegating effectively.
  7. Not prematurely assigning ministry positions before people are equipped.
  8. Not placing unwarranted restrictions on other’s spiritual giftedness.

Flexible and Adaptable

  1. Coping effectively with ambiguity.
  2. Coping effectively with constant and abrupt change.
  3. Adapting oneself to the uniqueness of the particular church planting project.
  4. Shifting priorities and emphasis during various stages of church growth.
  5. Doing whatever is necessary, whenever necessary.

Builds Group Cohesiveness

  1. Developing a nucleus group or groups as a foundation.
  2. Quickly incorporating newcomers into a network of relationships.
  3. Engaging others in meaningful church activity.
  4. Monitoring the morale of people.
  5. Utilizing groups effectively.
  6. Dealing with conflict assertively, constructively and tactfully.


  1. Experiencing setbacks without defeat.
  2. Riding the ups and downs (attendance).
  3. Expecting the unexpected.
  4. Rebounding from loss, disappointments and failure.

Exercises Faith

  1. Possessing a conviction regarding one’s call to church planting ministry.
  2. Believing in God’s action.
  3. Having expectation and hope.
  4. Having a willingness to wait for answers to specific prayer requests.

Want more information about church planting? Check out our Church Planting Guide for Beginners and How to Grow a Small Church.

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