Home > Blog > Best Practices to Develop Church Planting Churches [Part 2]

January 29, 2019

Best Practices to Develop Church Planting Churches [Part 2]

By Ed Stetzer

In this series, we’re examining eight ways that many organizations are intentionally building into their church planting systems an emphasis on developing church planting churches. You can read Part 1 on vision and strategy and pipeline development here.

Assessment of Church Planters

Integrate sending churches into the assessment process to encourage greater responsibility for the health and well-being of the church planter and the church plant. It’s crucial for a church planter to have a sending church in order to be assessed thoroughly, since a sending church will know the planter beyond what may come up during the assessment. Furthermore, sending churches are able to help planters with an ongoing development plan while also providing a mentoring relationship, regardless of the results of the assessment.

What percentage of your organization’s church plants have a formal sending/parent church?

This is what we discovered about their post-assessment practices:

  • 85% provide a full assessment report to the planter
  • 67% provide a full assessment report to the sending church
  • 71% work with the sending church to help the planter
  • 71% resource the planter in areas of weakness
  • 92% provide recommended action items to the planter
  • 52% provide accountability for the action items before the planter continues

Many organizations now require church planters to have a sending church before they can be assessed. One organization even indicated that, when at all possible, they prefer to have the sending church pastor or a representative present during the assessment event.

This allows the sending church to do two things. First, being present at the assessment helps them to better understand the qualities and competencies looked for in a competent planter. It also helps them to grasp how to best support their planter after the assessment process. Second, being present helps to reinforce the value of being a church planting church. A sending church is making both a relational and organizational commitment when choosing to plant a church. Being present at the assessment gives them a glimpse into that responsibility.

Training within Church Plants

Include strategic sessions on church multiplication in your training curriculum. A good church planting curriculum can no longer simply focus on launching a single worshiping community. It must help church planters strategize in advance over how they intend to plant churches from the one they are seeking to launch. This is what some mean by being born “pregnant,” and it is a key dynamic for a Church Multiplication Movement. A great church planting curriculum has a future vision for planting more churches, even as the organization begins the process.

From our interviews, we identified 16 distinct competencies around which church planting organizations develop training. The most common training competencies across organizations were Leadership/Team Building (94%) and Vision and Strategy (92%). The least common training competencies across were Multi-ethnic Church (30%) and Social Justice (25%). 73% of organizations indicated that they provide some sort of church multiplication training for their church planters.

One network added a specific module into their training that focused on helping the planter think through a long-term multiplication strategy. The idea behind this module is that if the planter has thought intentionally about planting with multiplication in mind, he or she will be more likely to implement multiplication strategies such as internships, residencies, sending, releasing, and funding other works into the early stages.

One denomination developed a full curriculum for how church plants and existing churches can develop a “greenhouse” within their church to incubate future church planters and church planting teams. Rather than developing their own strategies from scratch, churches can use greenhouse materials, which include vision casting material, participant notebooks, worksheets, and presentation teaching modules to begin a somewhat standard approach to preparing another church planting team while in the midst of planting.


*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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