Home > Blog > Best Practices to Develop Church Planting Churches [Part 1]

January 8, 2019

Best Practices to Develop Church Planting Churches [Part 1]

By Ed Stetzer

We’ve identified eight ways that many organizations are intentionally building into their church planting systems an emphasis on developing church planting churches:

  1. Vision and Strategy
  2. Pipeline Development
  3. Assessment
  4. Training
  5. Network Events
  6. Funding
  7. Scorecards
  8. Church Planter Involvement

Throughout this series, we will look closely at each of these characteristics, starting with vision and strategy and pipeline development.

Vision and Strategy for Your Church Plant

Make church planting churches and church multiplication explicit in your organizational language and strategy. You won’t implement what you’re not clear about. An organization that is clear on its mission to not only start churches, but also to equip churches to start churches, is more likely to implement this value into their systems, processes, and scorecards.

57% of organizations use language about multiplication or reproducing churches in their organization’s value statements.

Using strategic language doesn’t automatically mean that an organization is engaged in multiplication, reproduction, etc. However, there is zero likelihood that an organization is intentionally and strategically implementing something that it never explicitly defined.

What does your organization strategically focus on the most?

42% of organizations consider planting churches their primary focus, but they also develop church planting churches. 45% of organizations, however, consider their first strategic focus to be developing church planting churches while still planting churches themselves. Consider how some national networks we interviewed describe themselves:

  • We are a diverse, global family of church planting churches.
  • We exist to be a catalyst for church planting and multiplication. Compare this to other networks that describe themselves in this way:
  • We identify and resource qualified church planters.
  • We recruit, train, coach, and fund church planters.

We need both kinds of organizations, but one has a strategic emphasis on developing church planting churches and the other on developing church planters. This may seem like a subtle difference, but the long-term focus is a matter of addition vs. multiplication.

Pipeline Development in Your Church Plant

Offer a practical and adaptable church planter pipeline curriculum that can be implemented by both new and existing churches.

Church planting processes are largely focused on selecting qualified candidates. However, to see effective multiplication, organizations cannot focus only on church planter selection. They need to provide well developed pathways so local churches can disciple and raise up church planters from within.

Only 15% of organizations indicate that many or most of their churches have active church planting internships or residencies.

Valuing and implementing church planting internships and residencies is an indicator that a network has a defined leadership pipeline in place. While it’s possible that a talented church planter may not participate in such a pathway, the need for a track that allows potential planters to mature and develop is crucial for an organization. Moreover, having intentional leadership pipelines in place is one of the most effective ways to teach a church how to become a church planting church.

One national director said this about their organization: “Our network’s goal over the next twelve years is to have 4% of our churches in our denomination become a multiplying church. We believe 4% is a tipping point. That’s why we’ve developed a pipeline and curriculum for existing churches to disciple and equip regular men and women towards becoming future church planters. It’s okay if someone goes through the curriculum and doesn’t become a church planter. At least they’ll become better church members. But other than this level of intentionality, what other chance do we have?”

As discovered in the research from Multiplication Today, Movements Tomorrow, two of the six practices of churches that multiply are disciple making and leadership development. These form the heart of a church planting pipeline.11 Many organizations, like the one mentioned above, are realizing that if you want to take church multiplication seriously, you have to provide good tools for local churches to do discipleship and leadership development well.

*This excerpt is adapted from Best Practices in Church Planting Systems that I wrote with Jeff Christofferson, Daniel Yang, and Daniel Im. Download the e-book for free.


Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer (@edstetzer), is a professor and dean at Wheaton College who also serves as Executive Director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center. Stetzer has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, has earned two master’s degrees and two doctorates, and has written hundreds of articles and a dozen books. He is regional director for Lausanne North America and publishes research through Mission Group. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited in, interviewed by, and writes for news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He is the founding editor of The Gospel Project, a curriculum used by more than 1.7 million individuals each week for bible study. His national radio show, Ed Stetzer Live, airs Saturdays across the country. He serves as teaching pastor at Highpoint Church in Chicago and has been the interim teaching pastor at Moody Church in downtown Chicago.


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