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This doctoral project argues for spiritual formation as essential to the church planter’s development as a leader. The level of spiritual maturity is brought into question as one faces the difficult challenges of church planting. To navigate wisely through the difficulties associated with church planting, confidence, endurance, and stamina are necessary character traits. This paper argues for pain, hardship, and failure as major parts of the spiritual formation process in shaping the development of leader/church planters.

The study is based on the observation of leader/church planters in the LeaderImpac Network. They are leaders by reason of their calling into the difficult enterprise of church planting. The research author’s personal journey as a leader/church planter of three church plants in the course of sixty years will also be a contributing factor. The leader/church planters in this network are predominantly of ethnic minorities and are generally oral learners.

The lessons one is able to extract from the crucible encounters are shaping moments in the spiritual formation process. The consequences of not extracting the lessons potentially factor into one’s failure to finish well. Unless an intentional rhythm of spiritual formation disciplines is in place, accomplishing one’s goal and finishing well will be exposed to possible failure. The Scriptures consistently highlight trials and hardships as contributing factors in the spiritual formation of a leader.

Church planters, as leaders in the effort, are potentially at a higher risk for disappointment than the general population in the leadership community. It is critical that spiritual formation is understood as a lifelong God-shaping journey of the inner being in leader development. The project will propose guidelines to a sustainable rhythm in ministry. The project concludes with the practice provided in the writings of Terry Walling, coaching, and leader development, Will Mancini, leading the church and Dallas Willard’s writing on spiritual formation. The Doctoral Project concludes with a timeline for the process and its assessment plan.

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

First Advisor

Walling, Terry

Document Type





Christian Leadership, Spiritual Formation, God-Shaping journey; Leadership Development; Endurance; Finish well


Practical Theology


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