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October 31, 2018

The Dream and Reality of Planting Multiple Churches

By New Churches Team

Greg Surratt is the founding pastor of Seacoast Church (Charleston, SC) and President of the ARC, an association of relational churches working with church planters and church leaders to provide support, guidance, and resources to launch and grow life-giving churches. In this training video, Greg shares how the ARC started with a massive dream in the face of a sobering reality.

The Dream

The ARC started with a dream. Greg felt that God gave him a dream to plant 2,000 churches in his lifetime. Greg had planted the church he pastored but yearned to see God do something even bigger. He read how church attendance in America was in decline and how church planting was the most effective means of evangelism, and it struck a fire in him for the unchurched, a fire to see thousands of new churches planted in America.

But as a pastor with many responsibilities, the challenge of pursuing that dream proved daunting and at times overwhelming. One day, over a golf match, his friend Billy Hornsby struck up a conversation that would set them on a new path.

Billy: “Greg, what’s the dream in your heart?”

Greg: “I have a dream of planting 2,000 churches in my lifetime.”

Billy: “That’s exciting! How are you doing?”

Greg (embarrassed): “We are 0 for 3.”

At that time, Seacoast Church had tried three times to plant a church and all three attempts had failed.

Undeterred by the lack of results so far, Billy caught Greg’s vision and joined him in the effort. With Billy’s organizational skills and Greg’s vision they formed a team in pursuit of a journey to see if they could make a dent in the unchurched population in America. Greg realized that God will bring people into your life and ministry to help you pursue the dream He has given you.

The Reality

While Greg and his team had a great big dream, they also faced a sobering reality: somewhere between 50-75% of church plants fail. While church planters can learn from the successes of others, they can also learn from the failures of others and seek to avoid the same pitfalls.

A Bloomberg study has demonstrated that 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start a business will fail in the first 18 months.[1]The statistics for church plants are not much better. Greg dives into five reasons why church plants fail:

  1. They are not sensitive to the culture and needs of the unchurched people they are trying to reach. Church planters need to know their target audience, the community they are seeking to reach. When Seacoast started, Greg says they developed an intentional marketing plan and called 16,000 people in their community to ask about church attendance. If someone answered that they attended church, they encouraged them to continue. If someone answered that they did not attend church, they discussed the reasons why. Through those conversations, they learned that many unchurched people in their community were grappling through the impact of the recent moral failure and collapse of two major ministries in America. This background informed how they interacted with the unchurched in their community, knowing the hard questions they were wrestling with about the institutional church.

To read the remaining four points, and to watch the entire video, click here for the full video and post.

These videos are part of Plus Membership. To get full access to them, and much more, I encourage you to become a Plus Member. Click here to see all the benefits of becoming a Plus Member.



New Churches Team

NewChurches.com wants to help you build a strong foundation by connecting you with top experts in the field of church planting and multisite ministry, and by regularly providing you with the resources, information, and community you need to thrive as you multiply the mission of Matthew 28.


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