How Can You Church Plant?
There are many ways you can go about church planting, and you can read more about different models here, but if you are trying to discern the first steps you need to take in the process, we recommend that you start with these 10 tips.
- PRAY and wait on God’s leading
It seems obvious but so often we start with our agenda or our own ideas about how things can be done better or different. The best place to start with church planting is with a clear call from God. So, pray, wait, fast, spend time in silence. Be willing to wait on God’s leading, and ready to respond when and how he leads. Churches planted from other agendas are rarely fruitful.
- DISCERN with your family unit
Church planting is not a solo affair. Whether or not your partner is officially planting with you or not, it is a decision for a family unit not an individual. This may mean slowing the process down and making time for conversations and discernment with your household, including your kids! There is a cost to church planting, and it is born by the whole family unit, so make sure everyone is up for the challenge.
- DEVELOP a team (local team, support team)
Church planting is not a solo pursuit. You need a team. Actually, you need multiple teams, but at the minimum you need a local team who is going to go with you to plant, and a support team who will be praying for you and resourcing you as you go. The local team can vary in size, but we would recommend a minimum of three family units to share the load (each unit could be a single, family or couple). The support team could include prayer supporters, financial supporters, and even extended family to support your kids/spouses as the team plants. It takes a village to plant a church, so start building your village!
- CONNECT with a broader movement
No matter where we want to plant, or the model we use, it is always good to stay connected to a bigger movement. Whether that is a denomination, or a multiplication movement that supports church planting, connection to something beyond ourselves and our teams helps to provide support, training, and accountability, and reminds us that we are not in this alone!
- NAME your calling or mission statement with your team
It is important that your team has a shared sense of mission, your “why” for church planting. Is it a particular people group or location? Does it come from a particular passage or vision someone received? Developing a shared mission or calling statement helps you to keep that in focus as you move through your church planting journey.
- LISTEN to God, to local community, and to your team
Church planters are often activists. Those with a desire to get moving and get things done. Sometimes that means in our haste we end up going our own direction, rather than following what God is already doing in the community we seek to reach. We need to take the time to listen to God, not only for the “why” or “where” but also for the “how.” Christians have made many mistakes over the years as they have come into communities and started acting without first listening. So be someone who listens to God, who listens in the local community for where God is at work and where the real needs are, and who listens to the team God has placed around you.
- ENGAGE meaningfully with the local community
New church plants must connect with the community. Where possible begin to connect and engage alongside existing ventures in your community. Participate in neighbourhood houses or community activities, join existing community groups. Invest there, not just to grow your church, but to demonstrate God’s love to that community in tangible ways. If God convicts you of a need he wants you to meet as you serve alongside, step out and seek to meet it, but don’t start there.
- PLAN to make disciples
Discipleship doesn’t just happen. It doesn’t just happen through Sunday services, and it doesn’t just happen as you serve in local community together. You need to have an intentional plan for disciple-making that names your ideal picture of discipleship, your pathway to get there and your processes that will guide people along the path. Jesus was intentional in growing his disciples, and church planters need a similar intentionality.
- GATHER in ways that support your calling statement and disciple-making plan
Churches need to meet regularly! When we are thinking of church planting our first step is often to plan where and when we will gather, however these gatherings need to support our calling statement and our disciple-making plan. If we are trying to reach local families in a new suburb whose kids are involved in Sunday morning sport, then perhaps we need to rethink where and when we gather! Make sure your rhythms of gathering support your plans and purposes!
- MULTIPLY others to do the same!
Just like someone discipled you and is now releasing you to church plant, you need to be ready to do the same! As we mobilise disciples to be on about the mission of God some will hear the call to move out from where you are, to different countries or to neighbouring suburbs or people groups. Be expectant pf multiplication and be prepared to give your best away so that God’s Kingdom continues to grow.
If you have recently planted a church or have a plan to church plant in the next two years, you can connect with other church planters through the Church Planters Collective. If you want to talk more about church planting in your context, contact Exponential and we will connect you with people who can help you discern your next steps.