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Advice to a Church Planter

A church planter asked about how/where to plant.  Here is my response:

Go somewhere where a church plant will take you and help you plant. Be mentored first. Plant with a team, a group who are on mission and have that dna. Don't plant in such a way that you become forced to try to 'market' to Christians in order to get tithe up and pay yourself.  Plant a church that seeks to be a gospel-centered, city-changing movement.  Start one relationship at a time.

What advice would you give a church planter? 


  1. Forget what you usually hear about gathering a core group. Gather, train, and equip a group of elders who will become co-planters.

    That’s a core group.

    If I ever plant again, that’s what I’ll do.

  2. I would tell them to not be a “church planter” but a disciple maker. This is because we’re never commanded to plant churches, but we’re clearly instructed to make disciples as our central mission.

  3. Nice one Mike. I guess it now depends on your definition of church. Discipling people ends up with a church plant. So I think we’re in agreement!

  4. Pretty much echoing you guys:

    1. Get properly trained by people that are in the midst of what you are about to do. Seminaries don’t cut it and neither do churches that aren’t church planting churches as an healthy training environment.

    2. Build a team. You can’t do it by yourself. You don’t possess all of the gifts needed to build a healthy church. If you can’t build a team, you can’t plant a church. Get likeminded but diversely gifted folks to partner with you!

    3. Take your time. When your teams arrives in the target area don’t rush to launch any sort of service. Rather spend time in the community getting to know business owners, homeless people, baristas, barbers, and so on. Build relationships and learn your context.

    4. Remember you’re a church planter not a service planter. All your efforts should work towards the call of disciple-making of the lost and/or nominal Christians. If you rush to starting a big service you are just going to attract Christians and you will regret this in the long haul as your church will lack missional DNA.

  5. I am in the process of a “parachute plant” if you want to call it that. I am starting a church having to build a core group to launch. Sometimes the “sales” approach is put into your mind that if you “sell it” and they agree to come, you win.

    I am learning that taking just a little time and investing into someones life is so much more effective and that the more I do that the less I care about getting a “core group” God will provide in His time.

    Drew thanks for your insights. You and your family are in my prayers.

  6. Hi Drew,
    Due to some unusual circumstances as we started New City, I didn’t get enough time with our core people. That becomes even harder as the plant gets going. My advice would be to spend as much time as you can with that core group, pour the gospel mission and vision into them early and often!

    As to launching large or small and marketing…
    I think we have to be careful in assuming that our “way” is the only right way. Word went out ahead of Jesus that He was coming as he traveled – large crowds gathered and the truth went out. The first church in Jerusalem may not have had marketing, but they started very large. We did some “marketing” -sending out flyers and even advertising in a bi-weekly publication that is very popular in the downtown culture we are in. We started weekly services this January and I wouldn’t change a thing – (other than the advice I gave above). Some come and stick – some don’t. But every week I hear a story of how the gospel is transforming people in our midst and how families are beginning to grasp Jesus’ call for them to be missionaries.

  7. I am 15 or 16 months into a organic style church plant in Cleveland, Ohio. What we have learned the most is this:

    1. A team is vital. To quote the TV show Lost, “Live together, Die Alone.” I can’t tell you how many times having a partner in this has kept us from throwing in the towel.

    2. Don’t buy into the idea that you need to hurry up and launch. I would argue that until you have been in a community a year you don’t even know enough about a culture and a community to begin having a vision for what the church will look like.

    3. Don’t market to/go after/target Christians. We spent a lot of time and energy trying to get Christians on board with us, and we are still struggling to get them to think missionally. Instead plant a church among people that you and your team lead to Jesus, and disciple. These people know nothing other than to be missional, because that is all they have experienced in their Christian life. Those we have seen come to Christ are already planning ways to plant churches and reach the entire city.

    That would be my advice to anyone wanting to plant a church.

  8. Micah, hit me up sometime. We are only 4 hours away and seem to have similar convictions.

  9. Drew (and all)

    Yeah–discipleship should see the emergence of vibrant and organic “church” as a body of those disciples. However, much of what we understand about church planting–and I’ve learned the hard way, puts the cart before the horse. We often aren’t planting churches, but we’re planting some type of worship service in the hopes that this is the vehicle that will produce disciples.

  10. The exact opposite way we did it the first time.

    Try #1 we –

    1. Started a community (house church)
    2. Launched a discipleship training center
    3. Released the apostolic teams.

    Try #2 we are –

    1. Sending an Apostolic Team so they can –
    2. Start a discipleship training center that will naturally birth
    3. Christian communities (aka body, church, royal family etc.)

  11. A church planter asked about how/where to plant?

    My quick answer: pray. obey. go. call when you need something.

    My “it’s late” answer:
    How can someone be a church planter and not know where God is sending them? Sure we could argue according to gifting but…

    I believe that you cannot separate the man/message/mission. The CALLED man must work with the GOSPEL, sent to a place in the mission that God tells you to GO. Regardless of what you have, feel like, want to or qualify for…. not enough bad ass church planting! Too many people calculating, making selfish choices and just plain trying to be Tim Keller. Too much trying to figure it out. The guy who is suppose to plant has his hair on fire because he stood too close to the burning bush. Where are the men who listen for a distinct call? I am sorry to sound crazy but damn – isn’t planting….planting? Church planting sounds like banking now.. not planting… men who stake out the land, plant the Gospel and wait on God is what is missing. Calculating risks, doing this way, that way…sounds like a bunch of man-made christian books. If God tells you to go into a desert as part of your planting would you go?

    Sorry, just got back from the Rose Garden and watched the Blazers lose to the Suns! hahahahah

  12. Shaun – I look forward to meeting you!
    I agree 100% with you!
    I have yet to question my own call to plant, my mission, my mission field, or even my method!
    I have read methodologies from every side possible – I think – and we don’t quite fit any of them! Obedience is really the bottom line – do it what, when, where, and how God calls you to! He’ll take care of the rest.
    That’s been the best thing for us – seeing Him do His thing in His way. The truth is, I’m not sure what we are doing could be or should be replicated exactly as it is happening. I learn a lot from other guys and other churches – but the guys who think MY WAY is THE WAY drive me CrAzY!

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