Friday, December 14, 2007

Who Plants Churches?

Many churches today are planted by individuals following the biblical example of Philip and the other scattered Christians in Acts 8. These individuals include clergy and lay and men and women with varying levels of education.

Some are apostolic. They gather a core group, select and train leaders and move on. The new church then calls a pastor, often called a planted pastor, who might be full time or bivocational. It is far easier to find a pastor for an established small church than to get someone to start a new church from scratch. Also, most pastors with apostolic gifts lack the gifts to pastor a stable church.

In some cases the individual planter becomes the founding pastor and stays long term. Rick Warren and Bill Hybels are the most prominent examples but often theses pastors are bivocational.

The individual planter will sometimes work alone but might seek denominational or local church help.

Churches often start new churches in a nearby community where a significant number of their members live. Church members will provide the launch team and the church will help pay the planting pastor and other expenses while providing mentoring and accountability. In some cases a church will plant a new work in a pioneer area. This type of church planting still requires an individual to provide the vision.

Denominations will plant churches as well, sometimes in partnership with a local church. This involves demographic studies and intense evaluation of the church planter. The right planter is placed in the right place at the right time. It also involves a greater financial investment for the new church. This model does not have a greater success rate than churches planted by individuals or local churches. I saw a church fail even with a hand-picked, full-time staff of three and $500,000 in pledges. Two other churches that were not denominationally funded survived in the same county. Both have their own buildings in less than 10 years.

No matter who initiates the new church start, partnerships are the key to success. Partners include multiple churches providing funding, materiel and other help, denominational support and individual prayer and financial partners. Seminaries, Bible Colleges and parachurch ministries make good partners as well. It is even possible to have multiple denominational groups involved. The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has partnered with American Baptist Churches, Baptist General Conference of Texas, and Missionary Baptist Churches for new church starts.

No comments: