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Proposals for Church Planting Systems, Part 1

By Ed Stetzer

We would like to offer two proposals to help you intentionally move toward multiplication. In this article, we’ll examine the first proposal.

Proposal #1: Develop church planting churches and smaller networks of churches with their own church planter selection processes.

The language here is subtle, but the implications are significant. The current structure in church planting systems relies heavily on an organizational hub, which is usually the denomination or network, to provide the infrastructure necessary for a quality church planting selection process. This is a good way to streamline resources and to ensure a robust assessment process. However, this also means that the church planting process is only as scalable and as rapid as the organizational hub can handle.

The issue here is not that organizations have too many potential candidates to assess and train. In fact, only one organization expressed to us that it has not been able to keep up with its large number of applicants. Most organizations we interviewed are shaking every bush and turning over every rock to find their next church planters. But that’s just it: church planting organizations—instead of local churches—are the ones that feel the pinch to find church planters.

Helping Local Churches Feel the Pinch

In fact, the best church planting churches are the ones that constantly “pinch” themselves, so much so that many of them start and grow their own networks, often outpacing their own denomination (for those that belong to one). That’s why these church planting churches develop their own processes of recruiting, assessing, and training.

This is not a new concept, but the intentional shift of an organization’s vision and resources toward this might be. And letting go of some ownership and trusting churches for quality control issues will be among some of the initial challenges of moving in this direction.

Benefit: Local churches take real ownership over church planting systems, increasing the overall number of possible hubs for multiplication.

Challenge: Denominations and networks must learn how to relate to emerging networks within their tribe and find ways for these networks to relate to one another.

*This is an excerpt from Best Practices in Church Planting Systems that I wrote with Jeff Christopherson, 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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