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It’s become more difficult to recruit church planters today compared to the recent past

Today in ministry leadership, many have adopted this phrase used in business and organizational psychology: pipeline. The concept is simple.

A pipeline is an intentional process of discovering, developing, and deploying leaders within an organization or a movement.

The imagery is helpful because it invokes the idea of guiding people through a process (or pipeline) composed of different stages where the person is meant to experience growth and development. It’s systematic, but it doesn’t have to be mechanical or linear.

For many church planting networks, stocking the church planter pipeline has become increasingly more difficult in these last few years than it has been over the last few decades. Recently, a leader of one of the largest church planting networks addressed our Missiologists Council regarding the need to increase North America’s church planting capacity. He says, “We’re shaking every bush and turning over every rock to find the next church planter.”

Let me offer three observations of why I believe it’s become more difficult to recruit church planters today compared to the recent past.

1. The Wave of Gen-X “Free Agents” Is Almost Over

Church planting networks are seeing more and more that the days of “free-agent” church planters–someone who already has ministry experience and maturity–are almost behind us. The Baby Boomers who led church planting organizations did a fantastic job motivating Gen-X youth pastors and seminary grads into church planting.

Gen-X almost seemed designed for North American church planting because they were raised in the boom of the American evangelical youth culture.

They fueled the contemporary Christian music movement. …

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