5 Ways Established Churches Can Plant Churches

For far too long, leading an established church was completely disconnected from church planting. Those who were a pastor of an established church never gave any thought to the needs and challenges of church planting. On the flip side, church planters gave no thought to the needs and challenges of pastoring an established church. The two were viewed as separate, unrelated, and completely independent of each other. Thankfully, that mentality has started to change — but it still exists.

It is becoming more common to hear of established churches being involved in planting churches. There are several ways this can take place.

1- Financial partnerships

One of the simplest ways an established church can be involved in planting churches is by supporting a new church plant financially. One of the greatest challenges that a church planter usually faces is funding. Many times established churches are in a position to contribute those needed funds. In addition to finances, established churches can offer prayer support, help with service projects, and even send some of their members to help the new church get off the ground. This all helps new churches grow.

2- Merging with a new church

I am always encouraged when I hear of an established church opening their arms and welcoming a new church plant by way of a merger. The reality is that some established churches are struggling. They have the land, the facilities, and the heritage, but lack the people, excitement, vision, and energy. Merging with a new church plant allows them to leverage what they possess to advance the Gospel. At the same time, it can be a huge blessing to the new church plant.

3- Satellite venues that become autonomous

As churches see growth they face the challenge of where to put people. Should they build a new building? Do they go to multiple services? This is a question each church must answer on their own, but many are finding that starting a satellite venue with the goal of that venue becoming autonomous is an intentional way to further their mission and reach more people. In this scenario, the satellite venue is an extension of the church until the church is able to support itself, at which point it is released or commissioned by the original church to operate on its own.

4- Strategically starting a new church

Some healthy established churches have church planting as part of their vision. While they are open to the above options, they are also willing to simply send someone out from their church and support them while they plant a new church. Sometimes multiple churches work together for the purpose of seeing a new church started. Churches who do this are healthy, missional, and have a specific vision for church planting.

5- Supporting a church planting network or training organization

If the above options are not available at a specific time, but yet you still desire your church to contribute to the cause of church planting, you could consider financially supporting a church planting network or training organization. These groups work with God-called church planters to provide networks of support and training. Many times the church planters who come out of these networks have been given the tools they need to start a missional church. While you may not have a church planter to specifically partner with, supporting one of these organizations can go a long way to helping start churches.

One such training organization in my area is The Cypress Project. They do a great job of equipping church planters with the tools they need to advance the Gospel through church planting.

Established churches should be involved in planting other churches. Why? It is a great way to partner together for the sake of the gospel.

What are some other ways established churches can be involved in church planting? Comment below!


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4 Reasons Established Churches Should Partner with Church Planters

Sometimes established churches view new churches that are being started by church planters as competition. In their mind, “there are already churches, why would someone want to start more?” Not only should established church want new churches to be started, they should partner with church planters in support of new churches being started. Here are 4 reasons why.

1- It is sometimes easier to start a new church than it is to revitalize a dying church.

Revitalizing a dying and declining church is difficult. Typically the church is dying and declining for a reason, and the church is resistant to making the necessary changes for turning things around. There are sacred cows to tiptoe around, traditions that can’t be touched, and people who cling to their programs and positions. At times these churches have gained a reputation in the community for not reaching out to others, for bickering, or being stuck in past traditions. These realities make revitalization difficult.

While starting a new church certainly has challenges, they usually do not stand in the way of reaching people.

2- The unchurched in our communities are more likely to attend a new church than an established church.

This is primarily due to the fact that, in the mind of the unchurched, the established church has done very little to minister to them. New churches are usually very focused on community outreach, evangelism, and growth. As a result, those in the community see the new church as a new opportunity. There is a curiosity surrounding new churches that established churches simply do not garner.

3- There are plenty of people to be reached.

The truth is that established churches are not reaching everyone, nor can they. New churches need to be started because more people need to be reached. It really is that simple.

4- Partnering with a church planter can help turn an established church’s focus outward.

It is easy for the focus of established churches to turn inward over time. One great way to remedy that wrong focus is to partner with church planters who are focused on reaching the community for Christ. This kind of partnership can help those in the established church see the need that exists, it can remind them what outreach looks like, and can help renew their passion for outreach.

I believe that established churches should actively pursue partnering with church planters – working with them to impact their communities for Christ. The opportunities are endless and the impact is eternal.

5 Reasons Focusing Too Much on Church Planting Has Hurt Missions

I am all for church planting as it relates to missions, but I am afraid there has been too much of a focus on church planting to the point that it has hurt the overall cause of missions. I am all for the local church – especially in the arena of missions, however, to only stress church planting or for churches to only support church-planting missionaries hurts the spread of the gospel around the world.

Here are five ways focusing too much on church planting has hurt missions.

1- It has limited the number of workers who go to the foreign field.

As pastors, missions agencies, and other missions personnel have pushed the need for and importance of church planters, they have passively told those who have not been called to preach that there is no real place for them. I believe there are many people who may have been called to the mission field, but wrongly believe that since they are not a church planter, they are not needed. As a result, they have remained where they are, failing to give their lives to missions.

These are people who could have been a tremendous help as it relates to the cause of Christ, but because they were not a “church planter,” thought missions was not for them.

2- It has led to the de-emphasizing of discipleship.

By focusing so much on church planting the focus on disciple-making and discipleship has been neglected. The focus has been on planting as many churches as quickly as possible. This has resulted in many doctrinally weak churches.

In reality, the command of the Great Commission is not to plant churches; it is to make disciples who will then gather together. It is a focus on making disciples that leads to new churches being started.

3- It has minimized the importance of bi-vocational missions.

This is related to some of the other points, but I can’t help but wonder how many people God has called to work as a business man or woman, as teachers, as farmers, or as baristas in other countries with the specific task of communicating the gospel in their everyday lives on the foreign field. No, they are not specifically planting a church. No, they are not pastors or teachers. No, they are not full-time missionaries, but does this mean they cannot have an impact? Of course not.

In many cases their impact will be greater than that of a full-time ‘missionary.’

4- It has minimized the importance of other Christian workers on the foreign field.

Many missionary endeavors on the foreign field are in need of assistance from those who may not be in vocational missions, especially early on in the ministry. We need to be telling them to go, help, serve, and be involved in the process of making disciples.

To only highlight those who have been called to serve in official ministry and pastoral positions is to create an unnecessary barrier to people going to the field.

5- It has put the gauge of success in the wrong place.

By over-focusing on church planting we have taught those in our churches that a successful missionary is one who plants multiple churches. Perhaps this is inaccurate.

What about the person who teaches in a school and impacts thousands for Christ, but never plants a church? Is that individual a failure? What about the nurse who travels from village to village helping the sick and sharing the gospel along the way? Has he or she also failed? Absolutely not.

How we measure success cannot be solely linked to the number of churches that have been planted.

Closing Thought

By only stressing the need for full-time church-planting missionaries, we have told those who do not fall into this narrow category that they are not needed. We have passively turned away thousands of missions workers by over-focusing on church-planting.

I think its time to balance this out by stressing the need for ‘laborers in the harvest’ who will be committed to making disciples wherever God has called them to serve.

What are your thoughts?