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The Catalyst Role

In chemistry, a catalyst is a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction. It can also be a person or thing that precipitates an event.  Church planting catalysts are usually experienced church planters, who come alongside local kingdom partners, with strategic inputs and resources, in order to mobilize workers and catalyze a church planting movement.


Catalysts bring in “just-in-time” ideas, inspiration and resources to a group pregnant with missional impulse. They join hearts and hands with local partners to produce an increased reaction, resulting in changed lives, disciples who reproduce, and churches that multiply and transform.   (Gene Wilson, EMQ, V.52, Issue 3)


A catalyst is

  • One who understands the nature of a church planting movement within his cultural context…or, he has vision for the possibilities of movement progress and goals that could happen if the Lord blesses. 

  • One who is an encouraging leader who is filled with hope for the advancement of the church and communicates that “all the time”. 

  • One who implements coaching techniques in helping his team succeed.  He is patient in the early stages of the developing movement and not easily discouraged. 

  • One who has church planting experience (not necessarily success) and a Kingdom-mindset.

  • One who has personal maturity, humility, and is a ‘team’ player.   (Steve Elliott, Global catalyst)

Bobby Gupta has described one type of catalyst role in this way: …to equip that movement with the essential leadership skills and resources to grow mature, dynamic Christians and churches.”   (Gupta & Lingenfelter Breaking Tradition to Accomplish Vision, 198)

Specialist Roles that Catalysts Play

  1.  Mobilizer:  brings together resources so new churches can be planted.   What kind of resources are needed to see churches multiply?  (Spiritual resources, physical resources, personnel resources, etc.)

  2.  Trainer: provides adequate training to improve church planting quantity and quality.  (Training can be formal, like a course of study; informal, like an apprenticeship; non-formal, like a conference, workshop, etc.  These forms of training can be combined to make learning more effective.)

  3.  Coach: provides support for church planters, helping them grow and develop.  (Coaches ask great questions, helping leaders grow and think for themselves. They also walk alongside church planters so they are not alone.)

  4.  Assessor: selects potential church planters according to best practices and biblical principles.  (This evaluation is often called Assessment.  Planters are best chosen by observing successful existing planters and discerning what makes them successful, spiritually and practically.  Those observations can be used to create profiles of different types of church planters, enabling assessors to better evaluate candidates.)


  • Which of the above roles can be shared with others or delegated to others?

  • Which ones are necessary for the catalyst to do personally?

Agronomist with Tablet
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