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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), Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair for Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College. Ed also serves as the Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton, and as chair of the Evangelism and Leadership Program in the Graduate School. Ed is a prolific author, and well-known conference speaker. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written a dozen books and hundreds of articles. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He is also the Executive Editor of The Gospel Project, which is used by over 1 million individuals each week. As of fall 2015, Stetzer co-hosts BreakPoint This Week, a radio broadcast that airs on over 400 media outlets. He also serves the teaching pastor at Christ Fellowship, a multi-cultural megachurch in Miami, Florida.


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