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Five Trends for the Future of Church Planting

1.  A move from denominationalism is going to radically alter church planting.  Local smaller churches will partner together to plant churches.  Larger churches will follow in Redeemer's footsteps and be more concerned with planting gospel-centered churches, than churches of their own denomination. Already, our church in San Diego has leaders as well as partners from multiple denominations.

2. Church planting networks will merge, collaborate and partner to more effectively plant churches.  For example, Todd Wilson, behind the 2006 National New Church Conference started a Church Planting Network, whose aim is to, "help champion an explosive expansion of new reproducing churches through an alliance of collaborative church planting networks."  He has already seen this shift begin in a couple networks.  Even next years New Church Conference states the goal of, "helping church plant leaders to the next level of collaboration.  Together we can experience exponential growth of new churches in our generation."  At last years conference, Bob Roberts of Glocalnet gave an impassioned plea to the leaders of many of the church planting networks in this regard at a dinner for church planting networks and sponsors of the conference.

3. In America, churches will be planted at a faster rate in the next twenty years than we have witnessed before.  God, Technology (see #5 re: video venue), technique (mutli-site) and theological urgency will drive this.  More and more of the pastors will come from the laity.  In this same period, established churches clinging to methods will die at a faster rate than ever before.

4. Philosophy/worldview, world events and a renewed focus on kingdom/gospel/mercy ministries will contribute to a revival in America.  First, in America postmodernism (particularly the view of truth being relative) will be replaced as people are confronted with radical and extreme views.  Second, the increase in chaos in the world and a shift in our economy will drive people away from worldview complacency.  Lastly, expressions of mercy and a greater gospel cooperation (1 & 2) will create a greater witness of the church.  Those who hold to the gospel and focus on gospel ecumenism will thrive; liberal churches will lose their identity trying to be relevant.

5.  More churches will be planted without the role of a preaching pastor.  Many church plant organizations will promote the use of 'best of' or license videos from top preachers across America.  Already there have been churches who have licensed Willow Creek material for tens of thousands (I heard $50k) a year.  Others will simply pick series that they believe will draw the biggest crowd.  There already is one church plant that has grown to over 600 within a couple months using this method.  (Someone could probably make some good money by contacting all the 'big name' pastors and create a company that licenses their work to churches.)


  1. Drew–

    Lots here to chew on and think about…

    How do you evaluate these trends? Do you think all of them are positive? (I’m thinking specifically of #3 & #5)

  2. Kevin, inasmuch as (1) is gospel ecumenism and a willingness to not be divided over non-essentials I’m glad. I think (3) is a double-edge sword. I’m glad to see churches planted because I see it as one of the (often quoted as the) best way for conversion. The downside is there will be some people jumping on to ‘plant a church’ who are not prepared, Biblically qualified or equipped to get into being an under-shepherd of people’s souls. From my own experience as a planter, I was most impacted by the intensity of counseling, pains, struggle and joys of being an elder for a community of believers. Lastly, (5) to me is a method, which has been discussed in great detail. I think video venues can be a tool, knowing Mars Hill does it but more than not, it can lead into many of the problems of consumerism, pop-Christianity that is so rampant in America. I suspect those who are attracted to this lean toward pragmatism. I’m just glad I don’t have to make the types of decisions that involve video venues.

  3. Thanks for following up. These are my sentiments exactly.

  4. I sure hope you’re wrong on #5 – liked the post though…just sad to think about us getting less and less relational and relying more and more on technology

  5. I don’t see #5 really becoming a “trend.” I’m only aware of one church that was started that way (in Illinois, using Willow Creek videos). Video venues, multi-site, I see. So if you consider a Fellowship Church extension campus in Miami to be a “church without a preaching pastor” or a campus that’s states away from their main campus in Oklahoma, then, yes, I suppose it’ll keep happening. If that’s what you mean, then yes. But those are tied to a mother church of sorts, not just a church plant out there somewhere licensing the videos of great preachers.

  6. Does anyone know of churches that have started without a live pastor for preaching, using only video sermons (ie: not connected to a mother church at all). Please post their name and web address if you know of any. Thanks!

  7. Reading David Garrison’s “Church Planting Movements” I agree with #2 and #3 – that churches will be planted at a faster rate than in the past, and that they will be led by lay members stepping up to plant and lead them. However, being evangelists they may not have effective preaching skills. In those cases, they will turn to recorded training (#5). And for a great discussion on #4, read Dean Kelley’s “Why Conservative Churches are Growing” (from 1972!).

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