Five-step church-planting strategy
When do you plant a new church? Where do you start?
Here's the strategy used in planting Gateway Christian Church in Walnut, California:
- Step 1: Develop relationships with the unchurched community
- Organize activities where churched people can interact with the unchurched (events such as
day hikes and picnics)
- Encourage the churched people to build significant relationships with the unchurched.
Train them how to do that.
- Step 2: Organize large gatherings where the unchurched can remain anonymous
- Large gatherings allow the unchurched to check out Christianity. They can see what
Christians do and come to understand what Christians believe. For many unchurched, initial
anonymity is important.
- Step 3: Set up small groups
- Real life change often happens in small groups. Organize groups for Christians and for
those still seeking. Structure Sunday school classes to feel like small groups.
- Step 4: Discover gifts
- People who follow Christ need to discover their God-given talents, spiritual gifts and
- Step 5: Put the gifts of fully-devoted followers to use
- Empower and "commission" people into serving the Lord in a ministry or area that is in line
with what they have discovered about themselves in the "gift" step. [
choosing an avenue of service ]
What's it take to launch a church planting movement?
It takes Ten Universal Elements says David Garrison. After surveying church planting
movements around the world, Garrison concluded that the same 10 elements were present in
every one of them. The elements which Garrison listed in Church Planting
- Abundant gospel-sowing
- Intentional church-planting
- Building on Scriptural authority
- Reliance on local leadership
- Strong lay leadership
- Use of cell or house churches
- Churches planting churches
- Expectations of rapid reproduction
- Making church health a priority
In responding to Garrison's list, Doug Lucas says, "I suppose some of those are common
sense. For example, healthy churches grow faster than unhealthy churches... Duh! But the truth
is, we seldom think proactively about all 10 items comprehensively. And maybe that's part of
what helps a church to develop and grow -- thinking about doing it all right in concert, so all 10
cylinders hit in stride at the same time!"
Resources for planting a church
"'O Lord, there is plenty of money,
seemingly, for the great churches out in this part of the city. I would that Thou wouldst
give me some money to make a place for the Church of the
"Immediately, as though a voice from heaven, there were uttered in my very consciousness the
words, 'I have given myself to you.'
"I said, 'Thank God, that is enough! I would rather have Thee than all else, and with Thee we
have all things.'"
F. Bresee, a principal founder, Church of the
-- Howard Culbertson
Church Growth course
resources: Course home
survey Programs survey
Sample graph analysis
Devotional: Musings on a fast-food
chain Exam study guides
Identifying receptive people
PowerPoint presentations used in
class Why pastors resign?
Testing contextualization Case study: When
trust in a pastor erodes