Plant Like Jesus: A Conversation on Missional Ministry and Marketplace Engagement with Ben Ingebretson

church sustainability covocational pastors Mar 06, 2024
Missional Ministry and Marketplace Engagement


There is no shortage of tools, methods or strategies for church planting and growth. But what if the best strategy for sharing the message of Jesus in a post-Christian era is to actually follow the methods of Jesus?

We’ll dive into Jesus’ methods for missional ministry and marketplace engagement in this episode of the More than a Pastor Show. Let’s get started!

Links for Today's Show


Wondering How You Could Future-Proof Your Church Finances?

Feeling the weight of financial concerns for your church? Wondering how you could ignite a culture of generosity in your congregation? Feeling like it's time to explore alternative revenue options? Know that you're not alone! We're here to support you every step of the way.

We're offering individual and group coaching programs to help you unlock the strategies that are right for you and your church, so you can diversify your revenue streams, foster a growing culture of generosity, and navigate today's church funding challenges with confidence.

Don't let financial challenges hinder your ministry's impact or jeopardize your personal livelihood. Take the first step towards financial resilience and sustainability today, and book your free 30-minute strategy session.


Introducing Ben Ingebretson

I’m excited to have my friend Ben Ingebretson on the show today. Ben has been a spiritual formation pastor, bi-vocational church planter, and lead pastor in churches of varying size. For the last 20 years he’s directed church planting for two denominations - 12 years with the Reformed Church in America and the last 8 years with the United Methodist Church.

In this conversation...

  • Ben and I talk about church planting and growth in a post-Christian era, the power of bivo/covo ministry, and the kind of authenticity our culture is looking for today
  • I also ask Ben what he thinks the future of the church will look like - his answer may surprise you!
  • And we discuss his book, Plant Like Jesus: The Church Planter’s Devotional, which isn’t just for church planters, but really it’s for anyone who wants to follow Jesus’ methods for missional living and ministry and marketplace engagement.

To learn more about Ben and his work with BING Consulting, please visit And now, let’s get to our conversation with Ben Ingebretson…



Highlights from the Full Interview: Ben Ingebretson on Missional Ministry and Marketplace Engagement


Overlooking the Potential of Bivo/Covocational Ministry

Ben began his ministry journey as a bivocational church planter, which is one of the reasons why our mission here at More Than a Pastor resonates with him. But at the time, he didn't recognize the bivo opportunity for what it was.

Looking back, he sees how formative it was to work multiple jobs, including painting houses, while planting a church in East Lansing, Michigan.

Over the past 20 years, Ben has directed church planting initiatives with various denominations, focusing on multiplying leaders, disciples, groups, and churches. And he believes that bivo/covocational ministry is the way forward for many churches and pastors today.

Embracing the Discipleship Journey to "Plant Like Jesus"

Ben stumbled into an awareness a couple of years ago that the first person to be discipled in a new church plant is the planter. "Can I follow Jesus in this work I am doing?" And that led him to a fundamental question:

What has church planting become in North America? Has it become more about the application of tools, methods, how-tos, and the latest marketing strategies for attracting people to your church, than it is about following the relational, missional practices of our Lord Himself?

Ben said there was a season in his ministry when he focused too much on the latest methods and strategies, but as he studied Paul's approach to planting the church in Corinth, he was struck by how Paul described it.

In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul says he worked as a wise craftsman to plant the church, building it on the firm the foundation of Jesus Christ. As Ben studied this, he became convinced that Paul wasn't just talking about building the church on the foundation of the message of Jesus, but also the methods of Jesus.

This led Ben on a journey of studying Jesus' actions in the Gospels, extracting more than 100 lessons which he grouped into three general categories:

  1. How did Jesus missionally engage people and build relationships?
  2. How did Jesus organize or structure his movement?
  3. How did Jesus develop leaders?

Ben noted that these three categories form the basis of any successful church plant:

"You have to engage new people, you have to form an organizational structure and you have to develop leaders. And how Jesus did it gives us far more of the 'How-to' than I had been paying attention to for way too many years."

These lessons, then, formed the basis for Ben's book Plant Like Jesus. He took 60 lessons and crafted them into a daily devotional reading, illustrating each with a field example of someone who puts it into practice. Each lesson concludes with an invitation for the reader to reflect and consider what if would look like for you to practice this principle.

I have really enjoyed reading Ben's book as a daily devotional, and I think it's a great resource not just for church planters, but for everyone in ministry and anyone who wants to live like Jesus.


The Future of the Church in the Post-Christian Era

What does the future of the church look like in today's post-Christian era? Ben shares his perspective from several angles.


Take Time to Root Yourself in Community

Church planters tend to be in a hurry, Ben said, drawing from his own experience in church planting, and 20 years of coaching other planters. They seem to rush the launch process, driven by various pressures like limited funding, or because of their own personal expectations.

But Jesus was never in a hurry.

One of the things Ben discovered was how patient Jesus' approach was, layering relationships upon relationships and taking time to root himself in specific communities.

Ben believes that recapturing an incarnational, community-rooted approach will be essential for ministry in an increasingly post-Christian society.

Pastors Engaging the Marketplace

And one of the best ways pastors and church planters can become rooted in their community, in a post-Christian era, is to engage in the marketplace through a job or their own business or side hustle.

Authenticity Trumps Educational Credentials

It is a sobering truth that there are a lot of pastors with a great deal of academic credentials in ministry who are not able to draw a following today. Why? Because somehow they've lost the medium of exchange in our culture.

A generation or two ago, it was about the academic credentials. Today, it's about authenticity. Show me your life. Show me your work and experience. Show me you're living an authentic life with Jesus.

Co-vocational pastors will increasingly be seen as more credible because of how they live out their faith in the marketplace.

Fresh Expressions

Ben is excited for the Fresh Expressions movement, originating in the UK, and how it "deprofessionalizes" ministry and releases laypeople to form small expressions of the kingdom and communities of faith outside traditional church settings.

He believes that empowering Christians - especially those in the marketplace - to reflect God's order, truth, and beauty in their neighborhoods and workplaces, is essential for reaching our post-Christian culture.

Connecting with Ben

Was there something Ben said that really spoke to you, a key insight you want to spend time reflecting on, or take action on? If so, why don’t you share this episode with a colleague, or share it on your social media, and let others know how it impacted you? That helps us spread the word about the show.

Ben and I would love to hear from you as well! You can connect with Ben at and send me an email at [email protected].


Let's Stay in Touch!

Sign up to receive free tips and exclusive offers to help you grow your income and build financial security.

We promise not to share your email with anyone or send you any spam!