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 on 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
Significant life changes can be facilitated by 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 passions.
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 does 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 ten elements were present in every one of them.

The elements that Garrison listed in Church Planting Movements were:

  1. Prayer
  2. Abundant gospel-sowing
  3. Intentional church-planting
  4. Building on Scriptural authority
  5. Reliance on local leadership
  6. Strong lay leadership
  7. Use of cell or house churches
  8. Churches planting churches
  9. Expectations of rapid reproduction
  10. Making church health a priority

In responding to Garrison's list, Doug Lucas says,

"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 ten 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 that all ten cylinders are hitting in stride at the right 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 Nazarene.'

"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.'"

   — Phineas F. Bresee, a principal founder, Church of the Nazarene

    -- Howard Culbertson,


Starting a new church can be an exciting but challenging endeavor. Here are some initial steps worth taking:

Starting a new church requires dedication, perseverance, and faith, but with careful planning and God's guidance, it can become a vibrant and transformative community of faith.

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