So You Think You Want to Start a Church?

By Apostle Leslie D. Richardson

The office of the pastor (whether entitled priest, cleric, or clergyman) is-and always has been-extremely important in every culture and society. There is no question that in addition to the struggles and hardships, being a pastor has many other inherent spiritual and personal rewards. However, few truly understand the demands of being a pastor and what it takes to plant an effective, thriving, and sustainable ministry. Some are enticed to become pastors because of the seeming financial rewards and the purported “bling-bling” lifestyles of some contemporary pastors. But one should never regard ministry as a way to make a name or for personal gratification. The foundational prerequisite for starting a church is to know that you are called by God to shepherd His cherished people. It is imperative to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has called you to the work of the ministry.

According to, approximately 1,500 pastors leave the ministry every month for various reasons, including: burnout, conflict, moral failure, etc. Many others leave because of the inability to properly manage and supervise the business demands of ministry. Over time, these precious souls begin to understand that the work of the ministry is not for everyone. Unfortunately, it is they often reach this conclusion too late-after the church has been divided, people are hurt, and the sheep are scattered. In many instances, the carnage of their pastoral administration and endeavors are left for another pastor to cleanup. Ultimately, the ill-equipped pastor either has to leave or welcome a new pastor into the congregation-and the beat goes on under the new administration.

The following statistics are worth consideration:

  • There are Protestant groups in the country with over 35,000 independent or nondenominational churches representing more than 12,200,000 adherents. These nondenominational churches are present in every state and in 2,663 out of the total of 3,033 counties in the country, or 88% of the total. (Retrieved from:
  • The average attendance of 59% of churchgoers is less than 99 people per week. (Excluding Catholic/Orthodox-
  • The majority of the church attendees go to a church with less than 100 attendants per week. This fact is invaluable to the discussion below because of the sheer number of church members who are negatively influenced and affected where there is a lack of true pastoral leadership.

In 1996, I planted a ministry in Denver, Colorado, and for the past 18 years the Lord has blessed me and my wife to sustain this ministry. My Father’s House International Christian Discipleship Center did not exist until I responded affirmatively to God’s call. This ministry was not birthed out of a church split, I did not attempt to “back door” members to join from my former pastor’s church or other churches, and I did not inherit the ministry from another family member. God called me to establish this ministry from the ground up. I have had my own learning experiences in pastoring. I have learned so much, and much been imparted to me on this journey. Now, the Lord has placed on my heart an earnest desire to reach out to average-sized ministries (less than 200 members), and to share what I have learned. I believe that I have knowledge that is critical to assisting others in planting a sustainable ministry.

Pastoring consists of more than preparing charismatic sermons to excite the congregation. The work of the pastor is indispensable to the saving of souls, and is essential for equipping and empowering others for the work of the ministry. (Ephesians 4:12) Another important element of being a pastor involves creating an atmosphere that cultivates the healthy growth of Christians.

The person desiring to plant a church and to be a pastor must first break free of the “old wineskin” mentality. They must embrace a complete paradigm shift from whatever has been their perception of what is a pastor. Additionally, they must embrace the call on their life and learn how to think and function apostolically. An apostolic mindset is imperative if one intends to plant a ministry in any community and within the four walls of a church. Without this paradigm shift, the pastor will become weary in well-doing and eventually will succumb to the imposing forces of darkness. Once this happens, they will quit the ministry!

Second, God never calls a person to plant a church without directing them to a predetermined and ordained place, And God never sends a person to a place without first sending His word! Therefore, whenever God calls a person to the ministry, He will direct their path and give them a kairos (due season) word for their intended audience. To be clear, both the apostolic and the prophetic operate hand-in-hand. I am sure you have heard of hand-to-hand combat. This term implies up close and personal contact with one’s opponent. (Ephesians 6:12) Because this term is not taught at higher levels of Christian education, after having spent years in the classroom a person can matriculate from school only to discover that they are not prepared for the inevitable demonic attacks against their souls. Those attacks intentionally designed to prevent them from doing the will of God. I know unequivocally that God never sends a mute apostle. A clear understanding of the following two words is vital to the pastor: apostle (“a sent one)” and prophet (“one who speaks forth the divine oracles of God”). This reinforces the statement that the apostolic and prophetic go hand-in-hand. A pastor who does not recognize this fact will have his lunch handed to him by the devil.

A person planting a church functions not only as a pastor, but they operate in the apostolic. Because of religion, tradition, insecurities, and the strongholds of men, the Body of Christ has been deceived into believing that the apostolic does not inhabit the earth today. Some believe this is true because the twelve apostles of the Lamb are no longer here. Regardless of your theological position, scripture cannot be refuted. I have not read any Bible scripture declaring that there are no longer apostles in the earth. That concept is reduced to religion-the goal of religion is to control and to renounce the message of the one sent by God, thereby renouncing God.

The scripture clearly says that God “gave gifts to men … for the edifying of the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:12) Since the Body of Christ, the Church, is the bride of Christ, it is obvious that the gifts He placed in His Body-apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers-remain relevant today and always.

Embracing the old religious mindset causes fear concerning things that cannot be controlled. The danger is that one can be enticed into manipulating this sacred position for personal advantage. Furthermore, this conviction will cause one to plant a church and pronounce that it is God’s movement; the results can be devastating thereby causing the life-producing “organism” of the Body of Christ to be reduced to a static, dead organization. To further call this “movement” a denomination is dangerous and the blind are persuaded to believe false propaganda.

The individual who refuses to embrace both the apostolic and the prophetic many times will believe that they are only a pastor, teacher, or evangelist. However, the one who carries an apostolic and prophetic mantel will most likely come under attack by those who embrace the paradigm of religion. Ultimately, the faint in heart will concede to religion and compromise in order to “go along to get along.” It does not take long before they realize they have wasted a lot of time trying to wear “Saul’s armor.” (1 Samuel 17) Many seek validation and approval from the people, but if God has called and sent you with a word, He is all the validation you need.

It is astonishing to note how many are sucked into the demonic whirlpool called religion and who do not recognize that Jesus Christ came to free us from religion. (Galatians 3:1) Jesus Christ did not come to start a religion or a denomination. He came to show us the will of the Father!

My heart’s desire is to fulfill my mandate by God to equip the Body of Christ to do the will of God. On August 15 and 16, 2014, I will host a conference entitled: “KINGDOM IMPACT EMPOWERING CONFERENCE.” This conference is designed to assist the Body of Christ to do the work of the ministry in an effective, mature, and professional manner.

It is time to dismantle the old religious paradigm so that ministry is focused on lost souls. Each ministry is important to the Kingdom, and it is time that we help each other (without manipulation and control, or because of selfish motives). See my announcement concerning THE KINGDOM IMPACT EMPOWERMENT CONFERENCE.

All for Christ,
Apostle Leslie D. Richardson

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