THE CHURCH PLANTING PROCESS

   
Why plant new churches?
  We know from research that it is much easier for people to join a new church plant than it is to become a member of an existing congregation. We also know from research there is an enormous number of people who don't know Christ. Up to 40 % of the American population remains unchurched. And we know from Scripture that every human being matters greatly to God. God calls us through Christ to go and find the ones we can reach and walk with them long enough so they can introduce Christ to others. We also know that in fishing, the initiative is with the fisherman, not the fish!
   
The Planting Process
      
Planting a new church is a process the leads to a new church start. From our experience here is what a church plant process looks like.

Stage I. Planning and Sending Missioner (9 months to 1 year)
Dynamic: Diocese explores potential, identifies site, model and begins to search for planter.
  Staff and committee responsibility is assigned
Demographic study is done before site selection
Process for planter selection is underway
Identify missioner and planting team
Identify region (location) and available resources
Kind of plant(s) chosen (see "models")
Adjacent congregations are consulted
Resources identified
Gathering strategies identified
General site selection is made
Interference and resistance dealt with
Theological clarity (vision)
Difficulty of ecumenical plants considered
Make heroes of planters

   
Stage II. Gathering, Reaching People for Christ (1-2 years)
Dynamic: Community formation begins and 1st public worship service
  Site has adequate demographics to support vision and model
Other Christian communities identified
Gathering strategies decided
Recruiting planter with training
Identify potential worship sites
Coaching contracted
Recruitment, small groups and "taste and see" publicity
Team development (shared leadership training)
Vision and values articulated congruent with demographics and planter.
Missionary context "gotta love 'em where they are"
Benchmarks articulated in call letter with exit strategy for shutdown
Identification of investors, prayer support
Financial plan (see sample)
   
Stage III. Forming a Faith Community to Reach People for Christ (Year 1-3)
Dynamic: Regular services. Small groups are formed
  Benchmarks determined for size at start predict future size
If attendance 1 yr. after 1st service falls to 40-60(in dense areas) plan to implement exit strategy
Attendance and resources: more is better-even more is better
Beware of plateaus
Count people and money
Identity is in energy more than organization
1-5 years fluid with minimal structure
Large size does not necessarily equal mature community
Basic safety and consistency provided with anxiety avoided
Continuation of gathering strategies (tracking visitors and prospects) is primary

  Spiritual gifts identification continues
Provisions for staff (music and programmatic/secretarial)
Tenure of planter critical and transitions carefully done
Lay leadership and ministry is being developed

  Equipping people for varieties of ministries continues
Patterns of outreach are the norm
Love of chairs and trailers (set up and storage important) making lemonade from lemons
Find ways to make nice easy and easy nice to avoid burnout
Clear sense of music that will be excellent in community's view and missionary in strategy
Start stewardship education in the community
Intentional leadership training and delegation
Equipping and nurturing people for ministries continues
Act larger than your average attendance
   
Stage IV. Church is given Canonical Status (about year 3)
Dynamic: Structures begin to emerge to support the mission and ministry.
Formation and growth continue
  Multi-cell (small groups) approach developed whenever possible from the beginning
On-going collegial support, especially for planter and leaders provided by diocese
Be prepared for revolt of some lay leader(s) in first 3 years
Evaluation and re-negotiation of vision and core values based on new data
Leadership and delegation continue in balance

   
Stage V. Permanent Building if appropriate (Year 4-5)
Dynamic: Building facilities does not usually occur until year 4-5 to avoid
building too small or creating an ethos too early


A permanent building is appropriate when
  Congregation is mature. Larger the congregation, the more mature the membership, the sooner to think about building.
But renting of "permanent" space may be more reasonable than debt service on a mortgage payment.
   

 
 

 CHURCH PLANTING: WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED | THE PLANTING PROCESS
NEW CHURCH PLANTING MODELS | HOW TO KILL YOUR CHURCH PLANT

 

SECTIONS OF THIS REPORT

· Church Planting: What Have We Learned
· The Planting Process
· New Church Planting Models
· How to Kill Your Church Plant


Congregational
Development
Office
The Reverend
Charles N. Fulton III,
Director of
Congregational
Development
 
 

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