Church Planting Models
Ask ten different organizations for a list of the different types of church planting models and you will get ten different lists (i.e. there is no universally agreed to list of church planting models). If you would like to see different lists, simply do a Google or Yahoo search on “church planting models” and/or “new church models”. Instead of providing a comprehensive list of all possible models, we will attempt in this tutorial to highlight the high levels considerations that distinguish different models.
Note: often people confuse “models” with “strategies.” For example, the decision to start a small coffee shop venue with candles and a dark intimate environment to reach post moderns is a strategy and not a model. In the context below, models are distinguished from one another by at least seven primary characteristics:
1. The relationship /autonomy of the church planter to the sponsor or sponsoring organization. Does the church planter have a sponsor(s)? What is their relationship between the planter and the sponsor(s)? How much autonomy in decision making does the planter have from the sponsoring organization(s)? Where is the new church located in relation to the sponsoring organization(s)? Where is the funding for the new church coming from? Who selects the church planter? Who initiated the plant? Will the new church be autonomous or a ministry/campus of another church? Do the sponsor(s) have a preferred or required model of planting? Are there denominational requirements?
2. The strategy for discipleship including drawing people into the church and leading them into a deeper relationship with God. Will you build a core team one person at a time through relationships with the lead planter? Will you draw a crowd through marketing and outreach? Will you develop fully devoted followers through one-on-one discipleship in small groups? Will you focus on reaching seekers and establishing easy “next steps” for them to get connected at their own pace through a range of “felt needs” based ministries and programs or will you reach people primarily through one-on-one relationships? Will you use a formalized class/curriculum based approach (e.g. 101, 201, 301, 401)? Will you hold regular Sunday worship services? What will the role of your small groups be? Will teaching be primarily done through Sunday sermons, through classes, or through smaller groups? Do you anticipate having a “public launch” or functioning on a more informal, relational basis?
3. What will your staffing philosophy / approach be? Will the new church be able to financially support a full-time paid minister? Will the planter be the only staff initially or will the plant have the funding for a staff team? If bi-vocational, how much time will the planter have to dedicate to the plant? Is the plan to eventually become paid by the new church or to continue in a bi-vocational capacity?
4. Size of the Launch Team / Core Team. How large do you expect the launch team/core team to be when public services are started? How do you intend to build and add to the launch team? Will the team primarily come from a single existing church, multiple existing churches, or from non-believers?
5. How will you build community awareness about the church? Will you grow exclusively through friends inviting friends and relationships? Will you use outreach activities to build awareness and start conversations in the community? Will you use marketing activities to build awareness and start conversations in the community? Will you attempt to establish a broad “brand” awareness and reputation in the community? If so, how?
6. The purpose for starting the new church. Is the new church being founded to reach more lost people in a new geographic area/location? Is the new church being formed as a result of a church split? Is the church being started to revitalize a dying church? Is the church being started to allow a new campus or site of an existing church to be started? If so, for what purpose (e.g. alleviate overcrowding at the main campus, for the convenience of existing members, to reach new people, etc)?
7. Are there models or approaches to which you already have an affinity or bias? Most of us have a hard time breaking past paradigms. Are you coming out of an experience that will bias you to a particular model? Have you seen a specific model in practice that you feel God may be calling you to? What model best fits your experience and gifting? Are there specific models that will best fit the geographic area to which you are called or to the people group you will be reaching?
Nearly every church planting model is distinguished by the answers to these questions.
So…how do these questions translate into church planting models? Most models fit into one or more of the following categories:
1. Parachute – A planter and their family move into a new location to start a church from scratch. The planter has very little connection with or existing support within the new area. The planter and their family are “pioneering” new territory. Where there is great risk, there is great reward, but this approach is not for the faint of heart.
2. Sponsoring Church or Organization / Mother Church – An existing church or church planting organization provides the initial leadership and resources (dollars and/or people) to get a new church started including the selection of the church planter. Often the church planter is selected from within the organization and has already bought into the vision, values and beliefs of the sponsoring organization. The existing relationship allows for a close working relationship between the “mother” and “daughter” churches. Although the new church is autonomous, the sponsoring organization often has significant influence in the new church (including decision making during the pre-launch phase). Advantages often include increased financial resources and the ability to draw core team / launch team members from the sponsoring organization.
3. Collaborative Network / Partnership – This is a rapidly growing trend where an organization (or many organizations) committed to church planting work together to plant churches. These informal alliances are referred to as collaborative or partnership networks. The participating organizations often share common beliefs and a passion for starting new churches. Planters often get many of the benefits of the “sponsoring church” model but with increased autonomy in decision making.
4. House Church / Cell Church Network – Small (5-20 people) groups / cells form and multiply via a network of people meeting in homes. In some cases, the individual cells are connected in a larger network that meets together periodically in a large group setting. This relational model focuses on personal growth, care and teaching through one-on-one and small group discipleship. Groups are birthed through multiplication, and, often die, only to resurface months or even years later. This model requires very little funding.
5. Satellite / Campus / Multi-site – An existing church opens new locations. The idea is for one church to have many meeting locations. Motives range from reaching more lost people to making more room at an existing location. The evolving multi-site model is proving important in creating an entrepreneurial spirit of multiplication / replication within existing churches. It is still to be determined whether this model will spark an increased rate of new autonomous church planting.
6. Restart / Re-launch – An existing struggling church decides to bury the old and plant a fresh new church. The restart may or may not be at a new location and may or may not be with the same leadership. The resources of many older stagnant churches are a good way to bring new life to the community being served.
7. Church Split – Unfortunately, this model of church planting most often results from disunity. As a result, it is the most dangerous form of planting. A split typically occurs when competing groups conclude there is less energy required to “split or divorce” than to resolve differences and reconcile. The underlying factors causing the split often develop over years, only to “explode” in what seems like a spontaneous act. In many cases, the dysfunctional character traits of the old church carry forward to the new churches.Note: The model is independent of the people group you are trying to reach. For example, any of these seven models could be used to reach a specific age group, demographic, or ethnicity.
copyright 2005 Church Planting Solutions